The client took a lease on a vacant six storey Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in Covent Garden, turning it into a Japanese Yakatori restaurant. Each floor is minute so the programme had to be stacked; one function on each floor.
A dining room is located on the ground floor front. There is a small bar is at the rear. Toilets are in the basement. Two further dining spaces are placed on the first floor, which also has rooms front and back. The plan reduces to just one room on all levels above. The kitchen is on the second floor. The pot wash is on the third floor. The staff office is squeezed into the roof. An existing stair winds its way up through the building and a new service lift connects kitchen and dining floors.
The biggest technical challenge was to run new services throughout the building, including kitchen supply and extract ducts. No floor sits exactly over the one below. The base building had no vertical risers. There were few places on the rear façade one could duct onto. A number of defects with the existing listed structure were discovered when the floors were opened up during construction. These challenges placed pressure on a modest budget.
There is something inherently odd about designing a Japanese restaurant in a Georgian townhouse. The design seeks to walk a line between conveying the restaurant’s theme while making simple well-proportioned rooms that hint at the interior’s Georgian origins, otherwise effaced by previous interventions. The idea was to focus on a limited number of specific functional issues and contrast these new, more refined elements with ‘as found’, often crude parts of the existing interior.
Stair railings for instance were not original and rickety. Their physical connection to the stair was poor. They needed replacing. Re-imagining them became a way of focusing the budget on necessary work. New timber slats have been fixed between stair and the ceiling above or where this was not possible, to a new timber beam or post so as to provide a robust barrier.
In the dining rooms, battens and new skirting boards line the existing walls. A datum has been painted through, its height drawn from a fixed point in street or a building opposite. Timber slats and the bar are constructed from maple, given a wax seal. New flooring is in solid English oak. Existing stairs and landings were stripped back to pine.
Material Used :
1. Goods lift: George Johnson Lifts
2. Kitchen: Clean Air Systems and Installations
3. AC: Direct Cooling
4. Joinery: Whitehaus (waiter’s stations by Studio LW)
5. Structure: Furness Partnership