Architects: EAT Architects
Location: Victoria, Australia
Builder: Crown Shopfittings
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Derek Swalwell
From the architect. The Big Picture
This project demonstrates the possibility of using ordinary recyclable material for hospitality projects without compromising the sophistication of the food and service.
Traditionally sake is bottled in wooden casks and secured with ropes. Current commercial method of bottling sake is similar to that of red or white wine – now commonly available in twist tops. Our interest in sake bottling lies in the bounding of the cask using ropes. Thereafter we chose to investigate and translate our interpretation of ‘bounding’ with the use of Manila ropes. The ropes held in tension at specific points form a shape of a house or a hut. A house, whether it be a tea house or sake house is a sacred place in traditional Japanese times. It is a place whether people drank in harmony.
The first floor function room is a space for self service grill. The essence of the space is in starck contrast with the ground floor. Here we wanted to achieve a sense of humbleness: white washed walls, Japanese black stained timber flooring, simple timber benches and raw stainless steel canopies. There is no attempt to apply any embellishments because we wanted the cooking to embody the purpose of this space.
Material and detailing strategies
The principle material for this project consists of Manila ropes, timber and concrete. Materials had to reflect on natural elements such as vegetation and earth. This is an intrinsic ideology of traditional Japanese Culture where people seek a connection with nature. The Manila ropes were secured (by screws) onto the timber post/logs one end, slung over a steel rod and held in tension at the other end through the similar method of screw fixing. Between the ropes are timber sake lockers whereby patrons can stow their unfinished alcohol for their next visit to the premise.
Every component in the sake lockers had to be small, from locks, hinges, LED lighting so that the boxes can tuck in neatly between the ropes. In order to maintain the profile of the house, ropes had to be spaced no wider than what has been installed. The counter and dwarf wall are made out of polished spotted gum, specially chosen so that the colours are consistent. The ceiling and walls are finished in black paint to throw the services elements into obscurity.
Fitting out of the embellishment and the services into an old building was a challenge. We encountered several structural limitations due to the poor condition of walls and floors.
Application of sustainable resources and principles
Manila ropes are usually used for bounding cargo goods. Once worn and rotten, they are disposed. We wanted to demonstrate that there are alternative uses for manila ropes. It is not just purely a material for securing goods and sake casks.