Architect for the Sydney-based Ripples establishments, Sidney Koh, took minimalism to a new level with this waterfront restaurant
I was Bill Drakopoulos’ architect for all four Ripples venues and the Aqua Dining restaurant. Our relationship continues to be a constructive, robust and mutually respectful one. An essential requirement for the Ripples locations is that it must be on the water’s edge. Ripples at Sydney Wharf was a blank canvas; the building was an empty shell. The building sits on a public wharf and, apart from the limited indoor counter seating, which is also used as a ‘chef’s table’, it offers only outdoor table seating. It was imperative that it did not present as an outdoor al-fresco section of the restaurant—because it is the restaurant! The building interior is akin to the Tardis—it’s a compact space which accommodates a full-service kitchen with drystore and a walk-in coolroom, a return and wash-up area, and a 13-metre-long marble bar which incorporates a licensed bar, as well as the usual amenities, an office workstation and a staff locker area for their changeovers. I did turn to some Japanese design ideas for inspiration. There’s not a skerrick of unused space.
“Starting at one end, there is a separate, and partially screened, counter for return of used plates. The main bar has food preparation, plating and pass-through at one end, counter seating along its middle and the drinks bar at the other end. The counter seating is modelled on a sushi bar; patrons can watch the chefs at work and chat with the staff. A corridor leading to the toilet amenities separates the workstation from the main bar.
“It was vital that we made an eye-catching presence. We relied on two things—colour and lighting. For colour, I referenced marker buoys, primarily the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges as are commonly seen in Sydney Harbour. The first challenge was finding the right stackable chair for the space with these colours. I was elated when I found the ‘Punk’ chair for Studio Archirivolto. It was aesthetically perfect and would not only demarcate the restaurant space but ‘own’ the wharf. Samples were placed in the other restaurants to be trialled by customers and staff. They passed with flying colours.
“I designed a secondary lightweight steel frame which was suspended from the main boardwalk awning structure. Lights and heating panels are fixed to this new frame. It’s all sleekly integrated and fits well into the context; it’s really an extension of the building.
“The light is thrown up to reflect from underside of the tensioned awning which is dramatically and appropriately sail-like. It gives a sense of containment and—for want of a better description—suggests refuge for our marker buoys. It does grab the eye, especially from the middle distance. It gives the venue a physical identity.”
Level 4, 2–12 Foveaux St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9281 7477
Fax: (02) 9281 7577