Turning Japanese-A A +A
Saturday, January 26, 2013
JAPANESE architecture has a distinct character that a designer must almost strictly follow in order to come up with the ideal feel for a building or space. Thus, when Cebuano architect Christopher Chad Go was asked by his client to turn his existing house in Banilad, Cebu City (near Foodland), into a Japanese restaurant, he recalled his memorable dining experiences in this type of restaurant.
Apart from his love for Japanese food, observations from various Japanese restaurant spaces helped a lot in internalizing the traditions of the Land of the Rising Sun, which is necessary to come up with a space for the Yaki House Yakiniku Restaurant that would genuinely speak Japanese.
Yakiniku is equivalent to barbecue in Japanese. In yakiniku restaurants, diners often grill their food right where they eat. As part of his design approach considering this unique dining experience, the architect provided different options for diners to get their full filling of their dishes.
“On one side of the space, there’s a line of tables with recessed floors where it gives the illusion that the diner is in a squat position just like how Japanese take their meals. This is my favorite dining area of the whole restaurant. Each table has its own smokeless charcoal grill that is designed with individual exhausts to prevent smoke from spreading inside the air-conditioned restaurant. There is also a separate area with smaller tables which is ideal for groups of four persons,” explains architect Go. The dining space also extends outdoors where a maximum of 20 people can be accommodated.”
Working on an existing space is always a challenge for an architect. “The client wanted to have a unique yakiniku restaurant at a minimal renovation cost,” reveals architect Go. With that in mind, materials from the house, which was constructed in the ‘80s, like wood were re-used in some parts of the restaurant space both as structural and aesthetic elements. And he did not add too much on the current building envelope.
Yet even with the careful grip on the budget, the space exudes a lot of class and, yes, that distinct Japanese vibe. With natural wood, bamboo, pebbles and other earthly materials considered as popular material choice for Japanese spaces, the architect decided to use more of them in the interiors.
The characteristic fluidity and flexibility of Japanese interiors, where rooms are mostly “separated” from each other by movable almost transparent walls, is also noticeable. This is made evident through ribbon-like wood slats that run on the walls up to the ceiling that act and define the different spaces.
This feature also gives an illusion of privacy between tables. Strategic lighting highlights the building materials, thus completing the desired restaurant ambience.
The Yaki House is one of those sensitive interior architectural projects that require a lot of understanding about particular traditions, culture and even history to be able to really grasp on what a certain space should reflect. The challenge always lies on how a designer’s concept of the space can be translated into reality and be appreciated by its users.
Here, the architect’s mission was to turn this old residential space to a Japanese dining heaven. And it looks like the interiors not only fluently speaks Niponggo but also says that the architectural design mission is accomplished.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2013.