NAKA RESTAURANT Introvert spatial scenario

Location: Athens
Surface: 120m2
Status: Concept
Year: 2016
Team: Louis Barault, Clelia Ntassi, Elisania

This new asian tapas bar is situated on the ground floor of a typical 90’s mixed-use building in downtown Athens. The design aims to reflect and interpret into space, diverse elements and components of three important South – East Asian cultures. Namely, Thai , Chinese and Japanese. However, the cornerstone of the design process was the latter. Privacy, Introversion, Mystery and Secrecy are keywords for the desired ambience of the project consolidating the true essence of the name of the restaurant. “Naka” means “inside” in Japanese.

The experience of visting this restaurant draws on a scenario consisting of three key scenes .The first focuses on the exterior. Six folding steel panels filter both the natural light as well as the views from the outside, thus protecting the interior space and rendering it more private.

The second scene takes place in the entrance hallway leading to the depths of the precious interior, a delibarately designed route towards the heart of the restaurant. A dramatic and at the same time, serene spatial prelude. In this obscure space the only light comes from the hidden reflective brass elements in the ceiling. The golden reflection triggers connections to Thai traditional costumes. As one walks to enter the tables area, he merely gets glimpses through the CNC cuttings on the steel plate wall. Their shape draws on a deconstructed Japanese pattern. These apertures cast an interesting set of shadows to the facing basalt wall. This rough material is constant reminder of the volcanic nature of Japan.

Entering the dining area, one gets overwhelmed by looking up. The curved burnt wood element becomes the protagonist of the third scene, unifying the vertical wall with the horizontal ceiling and capturing the eye. It consists of 1.537 boards of various lengths between 40 to 70 centimeters. The dramatic and intense effect pays tribute to the traditional Japanese method of processing wood. The majority of vertical and horizontal surfaces are microcement coated. Centrally placed, a seven meter long, concrete, communal table separates the two seating rows of more “private” dining, highlighting the collective nature of South East Asia. The only visible lighting fixtures hang above the tables.