Abeno-ku, Osaka
Hiroyuki Hirai

Sohka is a Japanese-food restaurant in a six-storied office building in the southern part of Osaka. The restaurant is a space extending over two floors (the basement and the ground floor), with the entrance facing the road. In this project, a key issue was how to treat the access to the restaurant’s hallway in the basement, from the ground-level entrance, which faces a busy four-lane road. My solution was to use the existing structure as if it were the site, that is, to create a separate building within the office building. In other words, I decided to apply the concept of the “promenade architecturale”, which had been developed by Le Corbusier in buildings such as the Villa La Roche-Jeanneret. The result is a spiral sequence of scenes. Customers approaching the restaurant descend through a succession of spaces, and the scene changes whenever they turn a corner. This approach also provided a solution to a second issue I confronted in designing this project, namely the creation of a new interpretation of “Japanese space”. In descending, customers cannot actually see their ultimate destination, but as they get closer, the can sense its atmosphere. In a way, this resembles a visit to a shrine. When people arrive at the approach to a shrine, they may not be able yet to see the Main Hall, but the distinctive sensation of walking on gravel already conveys a feeling of sanctity. In a similar way, my design prepares customers, so that, as they approach the restaurant, they anticipate the enjoyment of food.