A Paradigm Shift

Quaid Doongerwala


Whilst refurbishing an old restaurant at Kemps Corner, Mumbai, DCOOP Architects have not only restructured spaces but also introduced a casual, relaxed ambience in keeping with the Neapolitan fare.

Chinese Room at Kemps Corner has been renovated as an Italian restaurant Gustoso. One portion was a covered area and was being used as a store room. It was cleaned up to gradually reveal a space which is now almost the star attraction of the restaurant. Revitalising the space with an open-air dining like that in Italy and France was an attractive prospect.

To restore the spatial quality, the mezzanine was removed, as it was detracting from the volume of the space. The higher ceiling thus obtained revealed the original jack arches.

None of the walls could be knocked down to create one large room, as they were load bearing. So a layering of spaces facilitated by the layout has been used to an advantage in the design. Integrating the services was another challenge, as the air-conditioning had to be sensitive to the space. 

Besides different volumes and scales, intimate seating has also been provided for. The open dump yard at the rear has been transformed into a romantic landscaped courtyard with candles. The covered storage room is now a private space for groups, with flexible seating to accommodate different requirements.

Other significant features are the large tank, a standing counter for parties, changing lights in the courtyard and the tree canopy over the court.

The flooring is in cement tile; repeated combinations of nine tiles bearing floral and geometrical motifs create a subtly complex pattern. The courtyard in granite acts as a counter balance. Some of the lighting is by the French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and is adjustable in height. A chandelier by Moooi and chairs by Thonet complete the aesthetic of the space.

Multiplicity is used as a design and organisation idea here. The multiple spaces give the user a choice from amongst many dining experiences within the same restaurant. Deceptively simple, the aesthetic brings together muted tones, to create a restful balance.