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Communal Restaurant

This all-outdoor restaurant evokes an incredibly unique atmosphere by combining an urban outdoor garden backdrop with self-supporting wood garden structures, all under one giant canvas-and-metal canopy. Only the kitchen and restrooms are within a traditional building—everything else is open to the sky, beneath a trellis, or within the canvas canopy.

The Program
The concept called for a casual, accessible blending of contrasts—rustic and modern, classic and innovative, indoor and outdoor, informal and sophisticated. Menu offerings are portioned-to-share, and rooted in comfort food but elevated with a culinary twist. Twenty one local, domestic, and international craft beers are offered on tap—along with an extensive wine-by-the-glass offering. A blending of indoor and outdoor architectural elements was desired—but in a more elegant interpretation then would be possible in an exposed, truly all-outdoor environment. Capturing foot traffic from bustling El Centro street (with a weekly farmer's market just outside) was imperative—thus, the placement of the large bar adjacent to the entrance acts as a draw to attract customers

Design Challenges
The all-outdoor environment was a huge consideration—as were the structural limitations posed by the light-weight canopy and canopy structure. All design elements needed to be self-supporting and weatherproof—especially overhead or ceiling elements. Summer heat gain is controlled by natural ventilation techniques and passive multi—layer canopy panels stretched from one property line to the other. Winter heating is provided by space heaters and passive heat retention.


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Dining and Public Spaces
The overall goal was to develop six distinct, yet contiguous, dining environments—each with a slightly different variation on an al fresco dining experience. Partitioned sidewalk dining greets patrons prior to entering the restaurant, with its own movable umbrella systems and space heating—a perfect interface with the weekly Thursday farmer's market. The Entry Patio doubles as a trellised Dining Patio—with garden uplighting and overhead string lights. Upon entering the main dining canopy, the Bar positions itself prominently, along with raised seating adjacent to perimeter steel storefront glazing. The main dining room features community tables and banquette seating, and is anchored on one end by three private booths—screened with a unique wood partition and canopy structure. The entire west side is exposed to the outdoor garden—from entry to main dining room.
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Communal: Entry Patio
A grape-vine covered wood trellis creates a transition space between the street entrance and the main dining canopy. Beyond is the bar with counter and raised seating—beyond is the main dining room. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Entry Patio from the Bar
Looking back at the Entry Patio, its soft lighting and articulated trellis creates a warm outdoor space for a light meal and a glass of wine. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Booth Elevation
The strong geometry of the Booth Canopy comes out when viewed from straight on—a complicated finger-joined series of 1-3/4" Poplar pickets creating three roofed bays. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com

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Communal: Entry Patio Wall
The entire west side of the restaurant is open to the the brick masonry wall of the building next door—and is covered with mature ivy and potted trees. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: West Exposure
The transition between the raised bar seating and the main dining room occurs at the break between the two main canvas canopy structures, and employes a continuous exposure to the brick masonry building next door. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Bar Seating looking North
The bar (right) and raised bar seating (foreground) face the brick masonry garden wall (left) and Entry Patio (beyond). Main aluminum struts and braces are visible beneath the main canvas canopy. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Bar looking Northwest
The main bar, running parallel to the core traffic flow, features a self-supporting steel-and-wood trellis structure running its entire length, and lit from within. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Booths
One end of the main dining room is anchored by three booths—each able to accommodate parties of ten. The subtle finger-joined 1-3/4" square pickets act as vertical supports and ceiling structure—a curious blend of open connection and privacy. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Booth Canopy
Morning sunlight filtering in through the outer canopy onto the inner canvas screen. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Bar to Booths
This view features main canopy supports (foreground right), canopy ribs, braces, and gutter (top center), Ceasarstone bar countertop (foreground), freestanding wood partition with 21-tap wall beer dispenser (left), both canopies (background), and community tables (center right). ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Bar Trellis
The main canopy, a dual-level canvas structure, emits filtered light throughout the space. Here, we're looking at the north end of the bar, towards the kitchen, with a portion of the Bar Trellis above. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Poplar and Orchids
Clear-finished and painted Poplar is featured throughout—whether as siding, painted siding, or trellis/canopy elements. Here, Poplar is juxtaposed against beautiful orchids. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Booth Detail
Self-spaces Poplar booth canopy supports provide privacy and connection between tables. Each booth features a double-wide table able to accommodate seating for ten. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Entry Trellis
The entry trellis features fruit-bearing grape vines—with edible fruit. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Succulents
Wood table tops are contrasted with terra-cotta pots with varieties of succulents. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com

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Communal: Main Dining Room
This view features the main dining room, looking west towards the garden wall. Community tables and benches (center) are custom fabrications of steel and solid-timber douglas fir boards. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com

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Communal: Tabletops
Community tables are solid plank douglas-fir tops, with a clear finish. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com

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Communal: Booth Lighting
The light from perimeter valances and pendant fixtures flows from one booth to the other between the self-spaced Poplar pickets. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Evening Lighting
Uplighting frames the perimeter of the booth canopy—along with clear decorative bulbs and cross-restaurant string lighting. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Bar at Night
The self-supporting steel-and-wood bar trellis creates a sense of space within the canvas canopy above. Beyond, the uplit masonry wall, fully planted with creeping fig and trees, provides a tranquil garden backdrop. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com
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Communal: Patio at Night
Acting as both entry and exit, the Entry Patio provides the final experience for departing customers before re-entering the street environment. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com



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Plans and Image Boards
Coming Soon….
Communal: Entry Patio
A grape-vine covered wood trellis creates a transition space between the street entrance and the main dining canopy. Beyond is the bar with counter and raised seating—beyond is the main dining room. ©2015 kim@zielphoto.com