An unorthodox retreat nestled in a newly rediscovered and revamped urban market space. Aesthetics splashed with Pan Asian flavours, firmly rooted in the idea of bringing the vigour of izakayas to the heart of the country’s bustling capital. Akachōchin is Studio Dangg’s eccentric endeavour to capture the essence of Japan’s age-old street bars, and curate a space conducive to casual conversations and mirth over endless courses of food and drinks.

Project Name:  Akachōchin
Typology: Hospitality (F&B)
Location: New Delhi, India
Built-Up Area: 1,000 sqft
Architecture & Interiors: Studio Dangg
Instagram: studiodangg
Principal Architect: Manav Dangg
Photography Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
Videography Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
Writing Credits: Ruhani Chopra


Glass : Saint Gobain
Sanitary fittings : Jaguar
Air conditioning : Hitachi
Paint : Asian Paint
Furniture : What The Furn

Akachōchin by Studio Dangg - Sheet2
©Niveditaa Gupta

Warm, inviting and ever-invigorating, crimson lanterns, or akachochins have served as significant signifiers outside these widely celebrated street bars since time immemorial. Hence, it is only befitting that they find their place symbolically in the design of the space. While traditionally these paper lanterns might have apprised passers-by about the existence of an izakaya within an establishment, eye-catching red neon lighting is the studio’s modern interpretation of this historical element. The unmissable red signage for the bar along with the external neon lights catch the potential patron’s eye by engulfing a strata of the façade in scarlet hues. These neon lights, that mark the upstairs balcony and pique the bystanders’ interest, are reminiscent of popular streets lined with outdoor bars, scattered across southeast Asia. In parallel, a visual void is created by a shift in materiality and lighting in an otherwise bare-faced building façade.

Akachōchin by Studio Dangg - Sheet5
©Niveditaa Gupta

A conspicuous and overarching theme throughout the bar is the stark contrast drawn between the exterior and the interiors, both literally and figuratively. This philosophy emerges from the closely-knit relationship that izakayas have with yokochos, the cramped alleyways lined with dozens of these bars. One cannot exist without the other, with yokochos undoubtedly being a silent yet essential part of the experience of visiting an izakaya. As one walks towards the entrance, they are greeted by external pavers and crude grey brickwork, a visual that is instantly shed the moment they walk into a stairway flooded with red lighting. It is here in the experience that one starts to subconsciously associate shades of grey with everything external, and the colour red with internal spaces. Upon ascending the staircase, this theme is reinforced through a grey upstairs entrance, allowing but a peak into the stark red interiors, and acting as a fitting threshold between the transition and the internal space.

Akachōchin by Studio Dangg - Sheet9
©Niveditaa Gupta

The two palettes used- grey and red- consolidate the space, yet hold their own. Each material is lauded in its raw form, untainted by cladding or layering. This is a conscious decision, amplifying the intent of bringing out the ad-hoc nature of the design of authentic izakayas, which are embellished and held together with makeshift materials, and could crop up anywhere in the urban fabric.

The interiors of the bar evoke a feeling of being out in the street, and the polarity of the two materials in use surprisingly blurs the line between the indoors and the outdoors. While the supposed “outdoor” segment is marked by the use of grey pavers and rugged wall cladding, exposed brickwork champions the great indoors. The seemingly small footprint might seem like a challenging constraint, however, in this case, it is used as an advantage to emphasise the cosy and casual nature of the space. As one would expect to find in a street eatery in Japan, the furniture is scattered in an informal manner, inviting visitors to leave the woes of their work day behind and lounge.

Apart from the bold choice of materials, another element that stands out in a multitude of ways in different areas is the play between solid and void, casually concocting “sneak-peak” moments. While the cut-out created for the balcony gives bystanders in the street an inviting peep into the startling interiors, a similar impact is made by an internal portal created to access the restrooms. In this case, the continuity of an ashen elevation is punctured by a cuboid plastered with red tiles.

©Niveditaa Gupta

The transition between the actual indoors and the outdoor balcony is yet again marked by a change in materiality, as well as french windows with an industrial aesthetic, furthermore drawing attention to the fact that traditional izakayas are constructed with whatever supplies the beneficiary may find. Another element used to re-establish this chain of thought is the usage of steel overhangs, or “chhajjas” in the balcony, predominantly seen in extemporary structures around the globe. Meandering through the space and into the balcony, one can’t help but notice the linearity of the elevation being advantageously used to create an external walkway. As the visitor leans along the railing, their experience is one of viewing the entrance of an izakaya from the street, replete with the feeling of being washed over by the warmth of the akochochins outside. In this case, this impression is created by lining the tunnel-like ceiling above with an array of red neon lights.

The space effortlessly transitions from being a bistro fit for a quick catch-up over lunch to a speakeasy in the evening, perfect for energized conversations over drinks post work. The overarching ambience of the bar, which goes by the name of Gonzo, remains easy-going and unpretentious, silently encouraging patrons to settle in and lose track of time.


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