Gargi Kulkarni Pherwani + Sahil Pherwani
Maharashtra, Pune, India
@gaspstudio + @garg_ee + @saaill

A bustling neighbourhood in Pune, Viman Nagar is home to several commercial establishments. Teeming with office goers, the locality is characterised by a host of commercial activities including cafes, street hawkers, store fronts creating an eclectic chaos. Mekong Folks presented a unique opportunity to make a statement that drew attention while also maintaining a subtle aesthetic style.

In order to transform the ground + 2 existing row house into a restaurant, the studio proposed a monolithic presence on the street using only brick and metal. Setting out to be stylish yet simplistic, the programmatic space allocation was done taking into account the concept of ‘road side façade’.

Design Approach

Every foodie would agree that meals are a sensory experience and that the sites and sounds of the place you are eating at add to that experience. Being an all-day Asian diner, Mekong Folks aims to transport diners to the Mekong river basin that epitomises its culinary culture using some of the most exciting ingredients, cooking techniques and offering an explosion of flavours. For the studio, it was therefore important to highlight these elements through the use of colours and textures that blend in seamlessly.

Without meddling with the functionality that was required for the structure to be used optimally, only the façade was changed. Spread across three levels, each serving a distinct purpose, the design weaves together the contemporary and the modern that is reflective of the restaurant’s philosophy as well.

Half way through the project, the studio was briefed that the ground floor would be converted to a confectionary space to attract walk-ins and enhance business. Rising to the occasion the architects delivered a space that was eye-catching yet stays true to the essence of the restaurant. In the bakery, shelves were created using birch ply and a partition space was added that merged onto the staircase continuing the use of plywood in the private dining room.

The first floor houses an indoor thematic restaurant while the second floor serves as a charming private dining room. As guests are led to the dining area on the first floor, they are greeted by a vibrant 12 ft painting that depicts the sheer joy that a meal can bring to you while also reflecting hints of pop culture through the Mekong river delta. Similarly, motifs across wooden panels add a pop of colour as you enter the dining area.

The indoor restaurant retains the existing brick façade on one side, which is painted white and punctuated with a quirky interplay of patterns and motives adding to the dining experience.
A subtle material palette was meticulously curated, which connects the external and internal pats of the restaurant. The use of grey concrete finish on the walls with tan brown as the main accent colour gives a perfect balance of space the otherwise small restaurant. Green flooring has been used to add an element of drama that further accentuates the feel of the space. The existing balcony area presents the perfect warmth, with just a couple of tables, it was planned in a way it offed a cosy space that also overlooks the street.

The store room assigned to the top level creating a dead wall for the road side façade while the middle level had apertures which would shield the dining area from the noise and air pollution of the road. To provide a cohesive character to all these different spaces, the studio has invested a lot of thought in the details amalgamating the use of birch plywood, fluted glass, mild steel and leather upholstery. While renovating the space, the existing plaster was converted into a concrete finish to merge with the furniture tones.

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