Out-of-the-box thinking creates new restaurant concept

A new restaurant concept redefines the idea of a traditional dining space.


When Ken Lo was asked to create a third restaurant in the successful Tan Zuo Mali chain, he knew he had to push himself to go further than his two previous designs. He knew he had to reorient his perspective about restaurant dining and green spaces.

Living in Kaohsiung, a fairly large city, most people never have the time to really appreciate nature. That is why he decided to create a one-of-a-kind space with the Green Isle.

The project is roughly about 5950m² which allowed the creation of a relatively complete living environment encompassing both a rest and dining space. It occupies a wide stretch of land but unfortunately, the nighttime lighting of this area in Kaohsiung is insufficient meaning any potential project would have to provide sufficient illumination to create its own atmosphere.

This lighting would be used as a visual landmark and also to highlight the forest-like greenery surrounding the project. The Green Isle was given its name hailing to ages gone by of magical places where you could go to relax and feel refreshed.

At the main entrance of the restaurant, a bridge was placed over the pool to accentuate the mood of guests as they enter. The nearly 120m landscape pool gives a strong impression of the building and creates a connection between the building and the water. Surrounding the property are over 250 large trees reducing the carbon emissions from the project and creating the feeling of being transported to another place.

In addition to analysing different service patterns and finding the best economic model, significant time was spent on environmental sustainability. Even traditionally imported materials like marble were locally sourced to reduce the emissions during transport. A large number of concrete exterior walls were barely painted, decreasing the need for elaborate environmentally detrimental materials.

The use of secondary materials also directly reduced the thermal effects and energy consumption of the building. In order to respect the relationship between the building and the green environment, the decorations of the indoor dining area were simplified. There was nothing overly complex or intricate but rather a focus on simple modern choices.

The use of materials inside and outside the building takes into account recycling and sustainability, and the use of materials such as metal is modularised. That will give the client years of efficient replaceability of most components. The glass arboretum is placed in a central location along with some greenery on top of a permeable layer of soil.

About The Designer

Ken Lo is a well-known architect operating a boutique firm in the south of Taiwan. While having no formal training in architecture, in a relatively short time he has managed to assemble an impressive array of projects that have won numerous awards.

Most recently he has been shortlisted for the Inside World Festival of Interiors.

These days his projects are all energy-saving green buildings. This means that all his buildings ensure adequate ventilation and airflow to minimise the need for extra cooling. Within a building, the interweaving of natural light and artificial light provides a sense of stability in the indoor environment.

Mr Lo’s relationship with the green environment, architecture and interior space are all presented in his work. This bears similarities between people, life and living space. The thread of nature is something that he has held dear throughout his life and is something he hopes to carry forward into the future.

In addition, this space also increases the possibility of natural light entering the indoors. Contrasting the artificial light source with the natural light source helps to blur the boundary between the interior and exterior space. This gives the consumers more opportunities to fully enjoy the beauty of the natural environment and the aesthetics of indoor artificial lighting.

This project posed quite a challenge for the designer because, after two previous iterations, he knew that he would have to create a truly unique project that would meet the needs of the environmentally-conscious consumer. Approaching and walking around the property, it is easy to see that he has done just that. It is a project that has set the bar for what environmental sustainability should look like in the commercial restaurant space.

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