Supple Steel and Limber Lumber: A Look At Restaurant Design

Topographic ceilings in restaurants

Topographic ceilings in restaurants

Topographic ceilings in restaurants

There seems to be more and more of these restaurant projects where the ceiling becomes an expansive, undulating surface. Maybe it has something to do with acoustics or maybe it has something to do with creating spatial variety, or maybe it has nothing to do with either and is just something a few restaurants have in common.

The three restaurants above are designed by Office dA, LMarchitects, and SO Architecture. They aren’t necessarily the best examples of this trend, but rather these are just three examples showing a variety of how these ceilings appear. So do these ceilings help acoustics? It depends on how they’re built, but it very well could, and this is nothing new.

Alvar Aalto used a similar strategy in the lecture hall of the Viipuri Library built nearly 80 years ago. So maybe these ceilings are better understood as ways to build variety into a space without building walls. In restaurants where tables can be endlessly configured and reconfigured to accommodate hungry folks, isn’t it better to keep walls out of the way?  Maybe these ceilings are trying to do both or maybe these are projects more interested in something else entirely, like fabrication.  Either way, eating under malleable surfaces may become more commonplace, or it may be another flash in the pan.

Alex Dent

January 16, 2013 / By