Designing a 56 sqm bistro in Tokyo
Annotate & Collect
Bistro Agathe in Tokyo (56 sqm). Architect: Hiroyuki Tanaka. Born in Osaka, he studied at Keio University and worked with Carbondale at the design of the Louis Vouitton flagship store on Champs-Elysees in Paris before establishing HIROYUKI TANAKA ARCHITECTS in 2006.
One day in April, I received a phone call from a friend I had often spent time with back in Paris, from whom I had not heard in a while. We spent a short while catching up—"How are you these days? Good?" "Yeah, I’m keeping pretty busy." Then, all of a sudden, he came out with, "Listen, I’m opening a bistro where I’ll be the chef, so I was wondering if you’d design it. You will, won’t you?" I had been expecting an invitation to have a drink or something, and was momentarily at a loss. Before I had a chance to answer, he continued, "I’ve picked out a place in Monzen-nakacho, so come out and have a look." And with that, our (extremely one-sided) conversation was at an end.
A few days later. "You could do well opening a bistro here," I thought, when I arrived to check out the location. From a designer’s point of view, I could see it working for the type of bistro my friend had in mind, with mainly counter seating, and I told him so. "Then it’s settled. Let’s draw up a contract and get to making some plans." My friend and I were both new to the restaurant business. We had a restricted budget and construction timetable, but that’s how our impulsive—or, rather, optimistic—project began.
As for the design, the idea was to take over an existing building that had operated as a small restaurant for close to 30 years, and renovate the facade. Just because the restaurant would serve French cuisine, we didn’t feel the interior and exterior decorating had to be French. However, if we couldn’t change the facade, the new restaurant we were going to the trouble of opening wouldn’t be very eye-catching from the outside, and it would be difficult to get ourselves noticed by people in the neighborhood. We decided, therefore, that we needed to appeal to passersby by emphasizing the contrast between the facade and the interior which we would be renovating (in such a way that people would realize a new restaurant had been opened).
There was another issue, however. Due to budget constraints, it was unrealistic to aim to tinker with all aspects of the décor to achieve an entirely new design. We decided, therefore, to split the space in half lengthwise, leaving the side invisible to the outside as it was, and to renovate the part that could be seen from the outside, including the kitchen, counter, and the remaining space. That would give us an easy two-part organization to the space as well as a simple distribution of cost.
When we asked ourselves what was most important to French cuisine, we decided it was definitely the consideration and choice of compatible combinations of food, wine and cheese. Even simple items should complement each other to mutually enhance their individual flavors. This is often referred to in French as a marriage, and we wondered if we couldn’t incorporate the same kind of relationship and effect into the architecture.
Luckily (?) the cabinet doors above the counter needed to be replaced. We covered the new ones in acrylic mirrors (12 to each door), tilted at various angles, so that people outside the restaurant would see a mosaic of the customers, tables, food, and unchanged walls and ceiling inside the store, while the customers inside would see fragments of the outside. The exterior can be seen from inside, and the interior from outside, in other words, as the area left unchanged is reflected in the renovated section, the space divided in two is simultaneously fragmented and recombined. Charming dresses, beautifully served food, crimson wine, effervescent champagne—this space transcends its partitioned structure, breaking its elements apart and then melting them together, not possessing a solid form. One could see it as the confusion resulting from an incompatibility of subject and meaning layered over one another. Architecture must of necessity deal with the concrete materials, colors, dimensions and weights of physical objects. But I would like to create something abstract with them, something rich and mellow.
Mimicry and Makeshift
Jean-Jaques Lequeu
Amor Vacui
Luigi Colani
Small Buildings
Bring the outside in: The houses of Joseph Eichler
Harrison and Abramovitz
Manufactured Landscapes
Pierre Besson
Weaving spaces
Mass, space, plane and line
The Bride Stripped Bare
Serge Mouille
Pascal Häusermann
The contemporary condition
私たちは Continuous Design
Peter Macapia
André Bloc - Sculptures Habitacles
Eleni Karpatsi & Julio Calvo = (fos)
Roland Rainer
Harry Seidler
Ponte City
The 2015 best of penccil
Hasui Kawase 川瀬 巴水
Ankara: From pioneering modernism to revivalist mimicry
Sweets by 若杉 智也
Antonio Sant´Elia: The house of concrete, glass and steel
Abitazione IPES ad Appiano
Allestimento del museo Palais Mamming
Infopoint BBT
Gio Ponti, Architetto
Pleats House
長嶋りかこ Rikako Nagashima グラフィックデザイナー Founder / Graphic designer
Absalon: Cellules
Urban Robot: The early works of 伊東 豊雄 Toyo Ito
Le Corbusier: Original Interiors
Russian Modernism
Brett Baguette
Frihamnen Harbour Sauna
TAKEO 竹尾纸张展
White Rooms
Hans Poelzig: Architecture as Gesamtkunstwerk
Crystal Palace
Zigzag Castle
Nordic Seating
Sweet bubbles
未来のお菓子 一日(ひとひ)A Sweet Future
Football and architecture
hitoshi koizumi
Ginzburg and Milinis: Narkomfin
related projects
Charles Tassin
penccil: This was 2017
serpentine 2017
One-sided Pasta
Green Architecture…. Is it blessing or curse!!
Kenzo Tange
The Menu
American Food
Organic Public
Design for Disaster
Shared Space
A Flat Named Desire
Food Architecture
Sky Walk
Akiko Masunaga
Scum Pixel
Microscopes of utopia
Brazil Modernism
Carlo Scarpa: Sketch and Work
Peter Zumthor: Thinking Architecture
The Bauhaus Revolution
In Infinity
Struth: Nature & Politics
In Orbit
Tom Ngo
Future Architecture
Superstudio, Superproduction, Superconsumption
Heartbeat, Heartseat
Swarm fabrication: Kokkugia / Roland Snooks
Spatial Clusters
Une Cité Industrielle by Tony Garnier
The Glass House
Julius Shulman: Visual Drama
Tea Time
Bird´s Nest
Toshio Onda
Eimi Kuroda 黒田 エイミ
BASILE ARTECO "Ferro/D" design Enzo Mari
BASILE ARTECO "Ferro/A" design Enzo Mari