In Dubai, Rockwell Group has created an extension of the Nobu brand for the first Middle East location. The design is an evolution of many of the concepts developed for the flagship Nobu 57, such as the emphasis on craftsmanship, natural materials and storytelling. Large-scale computer generated woven panels surround the restaurant walls and ceiling, creating a fluid, curvilinear environment for dining. The textures and materials in this particular location were chosen to reflect the finely crafted cuisine and Nobu’s roots in the Japanese countryside, while also celebrating the Dubai beachfront context. David Rockwell, Founder and CEO of Rockwell Group, explained: “The context, landscape and history of this new restaurant brought about all sorts of new and exciting challenges. We had to think about its location not only in the Middle East, but also in Dubai as the epicenter of an ever-growing and flourishing environment for building, not to mention being more specifically in the larger-than-life Atlantis resort on Palm Jumeirah.”
Architect: Rockwell Group
Location: Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Project Area: 11,500 sqf
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Courtesy of Rockwell Group
To anchor the restaurant in its location, Rockwell Group surrounded the restaurant walls and ceilings with large hand-woven curvilinear abaca panels to evoke an environment submerged under an ocean wave, and added accents of traditional Middle Eastern vernacular architecture such as hand-wrought iron columns of flowers, leaves and buds.
The restaurant includes a bar/lounge, main dining area, sushi bar, and private dining room. A 60 foot long curved river rock wall and laser cut metal screen of cherry blossoms mark the entry to the bar. The bar itself is made from 3 inch thick solid timber planks with a backlit onyx front. For the lounge, Rockwell Group has developed curved translucent flower panels with cast images of custom large scale cherry blossom photographs by Michael Palladino, which form an elliptical shape around the center of the space to form an area for private events.
The main dining area is surrounded by three dimensional woven abaca panels. These create an experience akin to being immersed under an ocean wave. Guests sit on uplit woven banquettes formed by these colorful panels, cascading down from the ceiling towards the floor.
Juxtaposed with the curving fluidity of the abaca panels and their translucent forms is the rectilinear sushi bar. All surfaces of the sushi bar are encased in black bamboo embedded terrazzo. A white bamboo proscenium forms a theatrical backdrop for the sushi chefs at work. This space is flanked on one side by a frosted blue mirror service bar, and on the other by a curved plaster wall encrusted with metalwork flowers encasing the private dining room.
For the private dining room, guests are greeted with wooden arches. The walls of this space are covered with glowing sake bottles and custom artwork on two sides. Overhead the metallic ceiling in punctuated with a glowing composition of custom suspended pendants.