Three girls found a former gorilla zookeeper to create Beijing’s most refined dining experience, because they shared a passion for fine dining, art and nature. Three things seemingly impossible to combine in contemporary Beijing.
Architect: maison h
Team: Martijn de Geus, Zidi Han, Simon Henstra, Sofie Krog Buskov, Lingyun Peng, Marie Selvig, Victor Tee, Han Zhang
Contractor: 1011 Architecture Design
Project size: 400m2
Location: China, Beijing, Wangjing District
Photos: Martijn de Geus, Wei Yi
Video: maison h
Description rom the architects:
- The Concept: MC Escher meets the Chinese garden.
We were inspired by the abilities of Dutch artist MC Escher, and ancient Chinese gardens, to make an endless world inside a limited space. Our project as a sparkling, endless journey of spatial discovery within the mundanity of every day life.
- The client:
One photographer, one Ikebana-flower artist, one manga-fan, three determined girls, classmates. Their wish: a refined space in which their passions for Japanese culture could come together, including a sushi bar, restaurant, tatami rooms, a gallery, and coffee bar.
- The site, from 3 to 1
The original site consisted of three small, dark and deep shop lots of two floors each, in Beijing’s new CBD. Located next to Zaha’s Wangjing Soho mountains, the site was wedged between a residential community and office towers.
We removed all the walls and floors, to combine these three shops into one single open space; leaving only the concrete structure and exterior facade in place. We then added a spiralling staircase, refined materials, framed views, and a small bamboo forest, winding through the rigid concrete framework.
Instead of the restaurant being a series of stacked floors, the restaurant thus became a series of interlinked spaces in which we modulate and vary the function and privacy of each space.
We created a special environment where you can go to explore, where you can see things, where you can go to discover. The concrete framework remains as a monument to the rigid constraints of daily life.
- Dining with a view
In a restaurant the best seats are mostly near a window, with a view, so we created a new ‘façade’ inside the now open space, with seating behind it, allowing everyone to be seated near a window and with a view.
Along the journey up, there are windows in this facade, some with balconies, that look out into the bamboo for.
- A natural, holistic environment
When asked to create an environment to experience a refined Japanese-inspired lifestyle, we sought to use natural wood wherever possible, and bring greenery inside the atrium to create a sort of natural urban oasis, contrasting with the rigid concrete frames.
We worked closely with the client and contractor, to let the design follow through to the smallest details of the restaurant. Except for the chairs, all the furniture, shelves and tables of the restaurant were custom designed and built for the space.
All together, it is a natural holistic environment, with the architectural design as a backdrop for a refined cultural experience. A refined space in which cultural elements of Japanese life are showcased, including a fine dining restaurant, private tatami rooms, art, ceramics and Ikebana flower arrangements.
maison h is a Dutch/ Chinese office based in Beijing, China and Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. We are a creative team that makes places. Creative places, educational places, public places, private places, natural places, healthy places, and above all, loved places.
We are a team that reflects the contemporary social cultural change. We are post-western. We start from our environmental responsibilities. We observe people’s needs and behavior. We are equal partners, female and male.