Main Course | December 2011
The Outdoor Effect
Simple materials and artful lighting are used to great effect by Designer Mrinmoy Chang to bring to Barka - a Delhi restaurant - a whiff of the Mediterranean.
White flowing drapes, cosy seating arrangements, diffused lighting and a pebbled floor. These are few of the highlights of Barka, a Mediterranean themed restaurant whose design is a fine balance of popular clichés and inspired innovations. This restaurant in Delhi designed by Mrinmoy Chang, Principal Architect, Magic Oxide Design Studio celebrates the al-fresco eating style with its vast outdoor seating of 4,000 sq ft vis-à-vis just 550 sq ft for the indoors - which includes both the kitchen and its services!
"The brief from the client was to create a space that helped the patrons unwind under the stars," says Chang. In response, she has created varied seating arrangements in the outdoor section, utilising the space optimally and offering a wide choice to visitors: they can perch on cushions thrown atop stone walls, unwind in the caravan-like atmosphere of cushions strewn amongst brick columns or sink into clusters placed under fabric canopies that provide private interaction spaces. The indoor section is highlighted by a diwaan-style seating arrangement besides the conventional seating.
"The outside attempts to create the feeling of a night halt under the open skies, with a caravan and pitched fabric tents aglow with candle lights, while the indoor section is designed more like the exclusive marquee of the caravan, perhaps for the royalty," says Chang.
The gazebos in the outdoors make for intimate dining spaces and offer privacy to the guests. A separate verandah area has a semi-open look created with soft fabric on the ceiling that ripples gently in the wind. Loose pebbles on the floor and natural stone cladding on the walls complete the setting.
The indoor space is more conservative, with plain whitewashed walls dappled with light from the custom-designed wood and copper candle holders. The indoor ceiling has a beautiful unplastered brick dome, which comes alive with the soft lighting, just as the walls that are 'hand smeared' with white lime plaster liven up with a golden glow. The décor is simple, warm and inviting while textures and lighting create drama.
Creating the look
The design of the restaurant is simple and unpretentious, and the materials used equally so: inexpensive natural materials like timber, fabrics, jute, natural stones, hand textured metal sheets in their unembellished forms and as natural as possible. The choice of material served the dual purpose of keeping the cost under control even as it created an attractive ambience.
Chang says that the key to achieving the perfect ambience was the lighting. The objective was to recreate the romance of the candle- and oil lamp-lit look throughout by using electricity. "The restaurant functions primarily in the evenings, therefore the lighting had to be delicate and nuanced," says Chang. Cerulean blue glass lights, custom-designed wood, glass and copper candle lights, candle grids and black glass chandeliers have been used to maximise the 'warm-fuzzy' feel that the space has at night.
Choice of the right materials, perfect lighting and a design attempt that takes into consideration the needs of the visitor distinguish this Mediterranean restaurant, making it the go-to place for a dinner under a star spangled sky!
Total cost: Rs 65,00,000
Total Area: 4,500 sq ft
Project design team: Mrinmoy Chang, Charuta Naik, Nayan Parmar, Umesh J, Prashant K, Mayur Ghag, Rajesh Chavan
Text: Sumisha Arora
Photos: Ankush Maria
Meet the designer: Mrinmoy Chang
Firm: Magic Oxide Design Studio, founded in 2004.
Firm specialisation: Boutique, residential and hospitality architecture and interiors.
Design philosophy: Less maybe more, maybe less.
Philosophy towards life: Every man dies. Not every man really lives.
Favourite architect/Designer: Mario Botta, Carlo Scarpa, BV Doshi and Rajeev Saini.
Magic Oxide Design Studio, 1, Ground Floor, Shiv Sadan, 53-A, Dr MB Raut Road, Shivaji Park, Dadar (West), Mumbai-400 028. Tel: 022-6525 6051.
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