Lou Cotter, managing director of The Buchan Group, Perth, explains how a Japanese restaurant with an outdoor takeaway appeals to both diners and passersby
“We were invited to refurbish the ground floor of the Commonwealth Bank building beside Central Park in Perth. Its life started as a bank chamber with a poor connection to St George’s Terrace, the main commercial address in Perth. It has ended as a generous arrival space accessed directly from the terrace, beneath a protective canopy into a light-filled, tall volume complete with commissioned art and a water feature.
“The base of the building was mostly blank walls and not interactive to the public domain. We realised there was potential to activate the perimeter of this building. There was a vacant space for a bar on the west side and another space on the north side that struck us as a perfect opportunity for a Japanese restaurant. We received endorsement from the owners for this concept and then designed it with their input.
“When put to market, a local restaurateur contacted the owner and wanted to open a Japanese restaurant. Our team proceeded to not only build the shell of the restaurant but included the full kitchen fit-out, and all the internal finishes to the bathrooms, etc.
“When designing the restaurant, we drew inspiration from its name, Shiro, which means ‘white’. Overall, the design is a reflection of historical and contemporary Japanese aesthetics. We used natural materials and gave it a minimalist feel—an almost meditational nature, similar to some Japanese spaces. As it’s opposite the park, we wanted all dining spaces to embrace the garden. All the services—the kitchen, toilets, stairs and plant room—back onto the bank building, separated from the bank by a tall, narrow daylight filled gallery.
“The front of the restaurant has been tiered above the ground plane to create a podium that floats above the garden. When park users walk past, the patrons are located slightly above them for privacy. The entire north facade at ground level consists of operable glass doors. When they’re all open, the patrons feel like they’re sitting in the garden even though they’re all inside.
“We cantilevered the roof over the glass highlights to the walls as a contemporary take on a Japanese pavilion. A feature seven-metre-high ‘spine’ wall which traverses the full width of the building is made from recycled hardwood. Most of the materials used in the restaurant—weathered steel, recycled jarrah, copper fascia—are natural, timeless and beautifully express their character.
“Tables, banquet seating and a lighting feature were implemented by interior designer Amanda Morgan from Bremick. Amanda was sensitive to what was already out in place and complemented it with some nice fine interventions.
“Upstairs, beside the two spacious end voids, is a mezzanine which can be used for seating during peak time or for private functions, as it has a fantastic view of Central Park’s grassy knolls.
“Part of our original concept was the outdoor takeaway on the western end of the building so passersby could quickly access sushi and consume it in the park. On a typically nice Perth day, it’s a perfect way to enjoy affordable healthy food and a fabulous park.”
The Buchan Group, Perth
486 Murray Street
Perth WA 6000
T: (08) 9211 9898