THINK OF IT! – Garden Restaurant | Studio Lagom, Surat may not be as space-starved as Indian metropolises of Mumbai and Delhi, but the restaurant typology sees a predominance of eateries operating within enclosed, air-conditioned environments. That’s not to say that restaurants with a considerable al fresco section do not exist, but these are limited to largely utilitarian establishments that pay scant heed to ‘place-making’.
So when the clients approached the architect to design a Garden restaurant, the design thoughts immediately veered to creating something that the city lacked: a well-designed garden restaurant in the true sense of the word. Given that the land was leased, further clarified this vision: a design that kept the built-form to the minimum and used economic materials to rationalise project costs.
The location in a quiet by-lane was opportune: the relative serenity would further the requisite laid-back air that was crucial to this type of development. While the garden restaurant had to have a certain privacy, given it’s location, the architect also wanted to ‘respond’ to the street. Ergo, a wide landscaped elevated set-back was created as a transition from the street level to the fly-ash brick masonry wall that marked the ‘boundary’ of the restaurant. This green band would serve as a street-side cafe, handy for a quick bite or cuppa.
Beyond the wall, the entry was orchestrated through a lobby-like enclosed space (abutted by a waterbody) that ‘releases’ you into the restaurant proper, with an open courtyard nestling within an L-shaped semi-enclosed area. The visual aesthetic within is organic and free-flowing, with materials, colours and forms that are grounded to the earth.
The seating options range from the al fresco to ones with varying degrees of semi-openness. Immediately bordering the courtyard void are smooth cement ‘benches’ created in situ. While to one side of the entrance lobby is a section shielded by a slim undulating ferrocement wall with cut-outs — more screen than wall — to the other is an open section, both are roofed by corrugated GI sheets whose edges are cut such that they, collectively, reinforce the organic look and feel.
The colour scheme — a predominance of an earthy red, with a dash of blue at the entrance — and materials — leftover stone arranged in a homely mosaic, smooth swells of cement and MS — are aligned to a rustic look. Overhead salvaged construction iron rods form an undulating installation, almost like a heavily contoured site manifested as a wire-frame drawing. Its shadows create a rippled effect on the floor, distorting views and adding more dynamism to the vistas.
And of course, where would a garden restaurant be without plants. Curated tropical greenery — frangipani, heliconia, dracaena, bamboo, banana, bougainvillea, and many more — imbue the restaurant with natural freshness. Strategic plantings — as borders, in the centre of the courtyard, a small bed in the paving of an open section, create a lush natural look.
THINK OF IT! – RESTAURANT
Location: Surat, Gujarat
Area of the plot: 5000 sq.ft.
Built-up area: 3500 sq.ft.
Architecture & design firm: Studio Lagom
Principal architect: Hardik Shah
Design team: Krishna Kapadia, Kruti Sheta-Patel
Landscaping: Hasnain Sabuwala
Artists: Kruti Sheta-Patel
Photographs: Photographix | Sebastian + Ira
Flooring: Waste Indian Natural Stone
Walls: Fly-ash brick and Ferrocement
Doors and windows: Sourced from wood scrapyard
Roof: Corrugated sheets
Furniture: Metal and wood
Art installation: Reused construction rods