Source:  Interior Design  magazine, May 2007

Source: Interior Design magazine, May 2007

The owner of Kimukatsu, located at the base of a residential building in Tokyo's Shibuya district, was looking to double the seating capacity of his four-year-old restaurant when he leased space next door and hired Hironaka Ogawa & Associates. The firm responded with a complete exterior and interior renovation based on a traditional Japanese building method that happens to be eminently sustainable. Using a mixture of soil, straw, and seaweed glue, architect Hironaka Ogawa constructed a mortar wall that essentially surrounds the 1,200-square-foot space's central dining room, separating it from smaller private dining rooms along one side, the kitchen on the other, and storage at the rear. Doing this required 33 cubic yards of soil. "We weren't able to find as much in the city as before," Ogawa notes. Instead, he had to bring a truckload in from Awaji Island.
Translucent acrylic squares of different sizes fill cutouts in the wall. During the day, the glass storefront allows sunlight to shine through the acrylic, producing a graphic pattern for diners inside. At night, the restaurant's lighting makes the squares glow for passersby. Should they enter, they'll find flooring of bamboo and marble, tables topped in timber, and benches and chairs of sapele wood—now seating 48 instead of 28.