isagi restaurant renovation by atelier SUPERB
located in a popular artistic hub and tourist attraction of taichung, taiwan, atelier SUPERB turned an old concrete townhouse into ‘isagi restaurant‘ inducing new perspectives between the present and past. this region is characterized by the rich and yet forgotten history of both american and japanese influence in architecture and street planning. as the land value of this area soars, rapid renewal and additions of the high-rise buildings fragmented the scale of the original streetscape.
‘isagi restaurant’ is one of the japanese townhouse duplexes remaining in the area, so that atelier SUPERB in collaboration with chen-tien chu architect, sought to generate a cascading relationship between the original and new, curating its historical characters over time. all images courtesy of atelier SUPERB
a harmonious conversation between the new and the obsolete
the architects chose to conceal the service space of the restaurant at the back, maximizing the view towards the garden at the dining area. the reconfiguration of the new linear stairs divides the space more efficiently and enables the space to be fully utilized. the four new load-bearing walls on the ground floor partition the kitchen, the front serving, prep area, and the private dining rooms, and at the same time serve as the structural reinforcement for the existing structure.
on the upper floor, the large north-facing private dining room can be separated into two smaller if needed. when opened, the door panels are stored in the spare space above the stairs, which also display the alteration of internal situations and external expressions of the private dining rooms. the dining space facing the west end is configured to accommodate mostly three to four guests, with the rear row seats embedded in slightly elevated wooden boxes. meanwhile, the toilets — placed under the stairs on the ground floor, and at the end of the circulation on the upper floor— are appropriately obscured from the dining space without interrupting the operation of the restaurant space.
a sensational fusion of the past and present
part of the garden fences doubles as retaining walls, on a planter bed along the wall bushes of camellia flourish — it filters out the noise of passing traffic and reinforces the tranquil dining experience. through the landscape — derived from the philosophy of the japanese garden, ‘imaging the big from the small’ — they sought to evoke the guests’ senses of seasonal changes. under the large chinese tallow tree the entry gate stands, while medium-sized trees such as jaboticaba and false aralia direct the guests into the garden.
on the feature wall at the south side, the mirror-like stainless steel panels bring in the views of the elegant garden from the neighbors, creating a seamless visual extension of the landscape. the reflection pool outside of the window of the front serving table carries in the greenery and the light of glistening water. the stained, aged, and chiseled concrete wall enriches the interior light and shadow that varies throughout the day.
the sharp-edged metallic finish also aesthetically contrasts with the rawness of the exposed concrete walls. plywood, cast iron, wood wool cement boards and exposed concrete walls complete the interior. numerous touches of the past on the walls are retained, such as the cement grout after the old tiles were stripped away and stains left by the paint. some wall surfaces were sanded down in order to maintain a balance between preserving the old texture and the new space.
the new window frames are deliberately offset from the external walls to make them seem lightly attached structurally
street view of the existing building before renovation — formerly used as an artist’s studio, painted in pale yellow and light green
street view of the new restaurant at night time
name: isagi restaurant
designer: atelier SUPERB and chen-tien chu architect
location: taichung city, taiwan
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edited by: christina petridou | designboom