Amano Restaurant, Britomart

Location /  Amano, Auckland, New Zealand

People Involved / McKinney & Windeatt

Photography / Russell Kleyn

Britomart’s port-side merchant warehouses have developed into a thriving hospitality, fashion and commercial office destination on the CBD-harbour edge. Italian-inspired Amano restaurant and bakery celebrates this context with a rich and nuanced interior. McKinney & Windeatt Architects explain their design approach and how they have transformed a carpark into a jewel in the city.

Amano occupies the ground floor of two mercantile warehouses on the beautifully scaled Tyler Street. With such a large capacity, we needed to break down the scale with a sequence of intimate spaces. Banquette seating, bar leaners, an extraordinarily long seating area adjacent to the kitchen, and casual leaner areas combine to create multiple dining options and arrangements. Trading morning to night, the use and feel of the space had to adapt throughout the day – from espresso and brunch settings to evening cocktails and fine dining, we have created a great variety of experiences within the single occupancy.

We set a high level of craft and care in the assembly and articulation of the design elements. Starting with a limited palette of natural materials – stone, mahogany, and leather – we expressed each in different forms throughout the interior. Some material assemblies were invented for this project, and emphasise the ‘nose-to-tail’ attitude of the restaurant where nothing is wasted. For example, the back-lit mother of pearl counters referencing the reclaimed harbour setting, are a by-product of the oyster industry. The terrazzo floor is inlaid with beautiful stone slab leftovers from the stone fabricators.

New architectural elements make gentle reference to the curved window elevations along the Quay Street side of the building, reflecting this shape in either convex (solid) or concave (void) forms. The raw beauty of the original building is preserved and enhanced by this new use; what was once an industrial warehouse – and more recently a carpark – is now a beautiful, varied, and memorable interior.

The real innovation at Amano is this highly considered contrast between the raw, industrial shell and new, precious finishes. These unique and unusual combinations are then layered with dried wheat and flowers by Xanthe White, locally-made timber furniture, and beautiful porcelain table settings imported from Italy.

Amano recently won the 2017 Interior Awards Supreme Award. The judges were impressed by this interior’s ‘ability to represent the cuisine made here, the heritage architecture that envelops it, as well as its cosmopolitan, urban seaside context – and to do it all with elegance and exceptional detailing. From plan to elevation though to bespoke pieces and carefully selected furniture, these all echo details in the heritage architecture.’

Winner of the Supreme Award and Hospitality Award at Interior Awards 2017