Snøhetta designs Burnside in Tokyo

Set atop a Family Mart in Harajuku, the heart of Tokyo’s street culture and art scene, Burnside is a chef-driven casual café and eatery by day and a bar and lounge by night. Snøhetta has designed this intimate space with input from the Bronx-based food, design and art collective Ghetto Gastro, create an unparalleled dining and social experience that combines the elements of a bodega with a bar.

New York-style Bodegas, or conbini as they’re called in Japan, are a shared cultural experience of both Tokyo and the Bronx – the ease of takeaway and their ubiquity as neighborhood mainstays have cemented their place in the urban fabric of the two cities. Burnside Tokyo draws upon the conbini lexicon on the second floor above a Family Mart. Walking up to the second floor, the space unfolds into a focused view of the dining room and open kitchen.

A wall of fabric-lined windows filters daylight into the space, creating the feeling of an active and humming café by day, and at night the windows bring in light from the street below to create an atmospheric lounge. The transition between day and night, café and lounge, is a driving theme for the interior design. Two intersecting arches create a well-defined café/dining area and kitchen while also allowing views across both spaces, blurring the line between front-of-house and back-of-house.

A dark material palette features amber-colored accents that reflect the changing light throughout the day while highlighting more ornate design elements such as the floral sculptures designed by Makoto Azuma. With a 30-person max capacity, the dining room is suited to maximize the floor space with custom-designed family-style tables that join together and fold away to allow a variety of layouts, including creating a dance floor for late-night events.

The dining room culminates in a proscenium arch at the pass table, where back-of-house and front-of-house intersect. This central pass table becomes the hearth of the kitchen at the project’s center. Beyond the dining room threshold is an open kitchen that revolves around the activity of the chefs and the culinary experience of heat and fire.

The kitchen layout, designed with input from Ghetto Gastro, is intended to easily adapt for future chefs in the rotating roster. The overall flexibility of the design and layout ensures that the space accommodates a wide variety of pop-up uses and events. Source by Snøhetta.

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architect: Snøhetta
  • Local architect: kooo architects
  • Art collective: Ghetto Gastro
  • System designer: Devon Turnbull (Ojas)
  • Flower artist: Makoto Azuma
  • Year: 2020
  • Photographs: Keishin Horikoshi /SS, Courtesy of Snøhetta

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