A TRIP to this best-loved Chinese restaurant some years ago would have given diners the “traditional” Chinese ambiance courtesy of halls that are dominantly clad in red and gold, and large tables for 10 to 12 people that are elaborately set for a scrumptious lauriat.

As part of the restaurant’s re-branding, these dining spaces radiate a new and refreshing look without diverting from the traditional concept and culture of serving such food. Majestic Restaurant at the roof deck of the Ayala Center Cebu does not look like a “Chinese restaurant” at first glance. But as one revisits the place for a hearty lunch or dinner, one cannot deny the character of the restaurant giving him a great place to savor Chinese cuisine.

Called upon to weave a new spatial experience for Majestic was Cebuano architect Buck Sia. Known for his progressive architectural principles, the architect was bold enough to dip the space into something current. “Due to lifestyle trends and the location in the mall, they have switched their program to casual dining and the faster lifestyle,” explains Buck. “That’s why the tables are set for a minimum of four, focusing on the family, where configurations can be extended to hold larger groups.”

This was one of the restaurant owners’ aims, together with his emphasis on a spacious and efficient kitchen space. Buck shares that the kitchen space is 45 percent of the total area. He admired the owners for allotting this much space for services ensuring fast and efficient service for diners.

However, this meant a reduced space for the dining area, which Buck was able to solve by providing more than the 100-person requirement from his clients.

Modularity in planning, which has been a favorite approach of his in most of his recent projects, did the trick for this architect. “This sequenced module partitioned the dining area from the other spaces such as the office, storage, kitchen and toilet. A module that consisted of a two-toned block made of white gloss finish on top and finger jointed wood at the base. The center module is the one with the logo,” he explains.

Modular design is no stranger to architectural planning since this has been used in buildings as early as the days of the Ancient Greeks, when they heavily based building proportions on human body “modules.” This approach to design involves subdividing a volume or an area into smaller parts to answer issues on maximized spatial function and activity flow. Going modular is indeed practical in getting the most out of a 185-square-meter concession space.

One would notice the “modularization” of each main zone in the restaurant through treatments on the spatial parts like the floor, walls and screens, geometric ceiling features and even through its LED light installations. The design approach may have resulted to a contemporary dining space but the architect admits the “Chinese” character is still very well preserved.

“The Chinese (ambiance) did not resonate with the aesthetic but a lot in the planning. The Chinese trait is always to maximize and make everything as efficient as possible. Service spaces were not compromised. But we had to make sure we could maximize dining capacity but not compromise the experience,” Buck explains.

Well, there are the lattice screens that look “oriental” but the architect says it is one of the features that complemented the project’s modular concept.

Majestic Restaurant may have just attained the ideal image that it wanted through its architect who is into progressive design but is still deeply rooted in his Chinese heritage. The abstraction of traditional forms inside this restaurant gives it a look that relates to the present while still affording diners craving for good Chinese cuisine an authentic experience.