Ninki Japanese Cuisine (2017)

In this post of our fall blOAAg series “Renovation + Relocation”, emerging firm, North Office Architects shared their restaurant renovation story with us.

Location: Toronto, ON
Architect: North Office Architects 
Project Credit: Lang Cheng, Suzan Ibrahim, Yvonne Tan  
Date of Completion: July 2017

From North Office Architects:

Since North Office Architects started its practice in October 2016, the office has been invited to design a few cuisine restaurants. What is unique and challenging about restaurants are the way they push spatial design to be optimized for every day operations, yielding a vibrant yet highly functional space.
ninki restaurant plan

Image: Proposed Floor Plan
Architectural Drawing Credit: North Office Architects 

Image: Proposed Bar Millwork Elevation
Architectural Drawing Credit: North OIffice Architects

Restaurant owners have a few common requests ‐ to provide maximum number of seating, efficient seating‐ and service station layout, variety of seating types for customers to choose from, and most importantly, cleanliness and ease of maintenance. All of which contribute to optimize the everyday operation of space.

Photograph: Before Renovation
Photo Credit: North Office Architects

Wall Rendering

Image: Rendering of the Feature Wall
Image Credit: North Office Architects

Restaurants are not only a highly efficient architectural space, but also presents itself as a direct personal platform for each customer through social media. It is where the customer has the opportunity ‐ and inevitable contributes to the success or fall of the restaurant ‐ by presenting the food they receive, the atmosphere they are within and the social environment they are engaged with. This puts a positive pressure on both the restaurant and the architectural design. Since the power of social media can deeply affect a restaurant's reputation and popularity, we take this opportunity to utilize it along with the architectural design as a marketing tool for the owner. Therefore, NOA believes that restaurants in our modern era need to be “Instagrammable” emphasizing certain elements as a focal point, either a feature wall or ceiling.


Image: After -  Feature Wall
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Image: After - Bar Area
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An example of a focal point was the opportunity of a large concrete curved wall measuring 11ft in height by 50ft in length. This brought a central spine carrying the design intent of the space ‐ creating a dynamic and warm environment for its customers through undulating wood vertical slat. The shape and design was a direct reflection of the conversation between the designer and client keeping in mind the customer and worker in the space. These vertical elements contributed to a low maintenance and provided a warm and inviting backdrop from which conversations and social activities within the space, as well as the virtual space of social media, are instigated. 

CNC mill work

Image: Feature Wall - unfinished
Photo Credit:


Image: Feature Wall - CNC file
Architectural Image Credit: North Office Architects

Image: Feature Wall cuts from CNC
Photo Credit: 

Image: Feature Wall
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Image: Feature Wall Close-up
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This post is forms part of our blOAAg fall series Renovation + Relocation exploring renovation stories by local architects from the profession’s point of view. Check out the other posts in our series for more stories from Ontario Architects!


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