Symbolics architecture and design were commissioned to renovate the interior and exterior of this landmark restaurant in Toronto. Situated within an existing shopping plaza at the intersection of the Queensway and Kipling Avenue and north of the Gardner Expressway. The surrounding area is composed mainly of typical and mixed commercial building types along the Queensway and a residential community to the North.
The existing building posed a number of shortfalls that had to be addressed architecturally. At first glance, the entrance to the existing building was uninviting and lacked any sense of prominence and was poorly visible. Solving this issue was the main driving force behind the approach at a conceptual scheme.
Second, the existing easterly facade was composed of a blank and very long stretch of straight wall surface. This condition, in combination with a fast moving vehicular thorough way and little pedestrian traffic would mean that the building could go unnoticed.
Third, the main facade with easterly exposure contained a very small amount of window openings. Therefore, the interior space for the restaurant was dark throughout the day creating a higher demand for artificial lighting. But more importantly a passerby would not be able to identify with the interior space.
"In identifying the challenges posed by the existing building we were able to clearly develop a conceptual framework to address the clients needs for the project.
The desire to create a strong entrance element was successfully realised by proposing a metal canopy structure extending from the main entrance doors and cantilevered over elongated concrete steps and concrete planters. The canopy functionally provides shelter and at the same time it evokes the sense of place beginning from the sidewalk. The tall glass entrance structure with floating light fixtures was conceptually designed to act as a visual identifier for the restaurant from within the plaza as well as vehicles traveling on the Queensway. Additionally, the linear and horizontal patterning designed for the exterior cladding were conceived and developed to create a sense of movement towards the glass entrance and to articulate the long and flat existing wall".
Existing conditions and an undefined open interior volume posed a challenge for the desire to provide an intimate dining experience. The initial idea for the concept was based on the notion of the process of digging and carving away volumes to create the interior space. This idea reinforced the design process throughout the entire project. It allowed for the expression of the design intent to create a calm and simple interior space that was defined more by the way of the process rather than the material selections.
Irregular shaped planes were conceived to physically act as vertical screens and define the intimate spatial volumes and areas. Carved voids within the planes allowed for gradual glimpses and a sense of discovery at the moment of entry into the space.