December 11, 2022

YODEZEEN Inserts Atmospheric Japanese Restaurant in Former Kiev Arsenal Building


A toilet housed in a red wire mesh structure and an open central kitchen feature at this Kiev Japanese restaurant by local architecture and design firm YODEZEEN.

Located in an 18th century brick building with Art Nouveau elements, the Virgin Izakaya Bar is in a central area of ​​the Ukrainian city that was previously dedicated to the production of weapons.

The restaurant is located in a former arsenal

Izakaya refers to a type of informal bar serving drinks and small plates of food that are ubiquitous in Japan. The word izakaya (érif酒屋) is made up of three kanji with the meaning: stay-drink-place.

YODEZEEN’s design concept was based on conserving the existing architecture of the industrial building and all of its original Art Nouveau details, while creating a welcoming and contemporary design reminiscent of the izakaya experience.

The Virgin Izakaya Bar has an open kitchen
An open kitchen and a bar are located in the center of the restaurant

Measuring 405 square meters, the Japanese restaurant’s dining room revolves around an open central kitchen that serves as the focal point inside. Positioned at the same level as the restaurant seating and spanning almost the entire length of the restaurant, the kitchen is bordered by a long bar counter and designed to be visible from all angles.

Wooden tables are placed around the main lobby, and some places have single-stick stools reminiscent of those found in izakaya across Japan.

A large lattice screen divides areas of the Virgin Izakaya Bar
Weathered wood and copper were used throughout the restaurant to add warmth

“Everything that was carefully hidden is now in the public domain,” said the studio, which has offices in Kiev, Los Angeles and Miami. “The guest comes face to face with the chef and becomes the participant of a real culinary master class.”

To add warmth to the bare brick walls and concrete surfaces, which the studio deliberately kept raw, the design team selected a palette of natural materials such as wood, copper, and natural leather.

Oxidized metal panels and wire mesh have been added to create areas in the interior and also create special decorative elements. This is demonstrated in the restrooms of the restaurant, which are houses in an independent red wire mesh structure.

“We wanted elements of the Japanese style not to be flashy, but to be read in certain solutions,” said Artem Zverev, co-founder of the YODEZEEN studio and lead architect of the project.

The red wire mesh was shaped into architectural forms
A volume in red metal mesh shelters the bathrooms of the restaurants

“This is the concept of a toilet, expressed in a separate Japanese-style building, about three meters high,” Zverev added.

“We set up this interior building in the form of a red metal mesh, which allowed part of the hall to be seen from the toilets and vice versa.

“We have created an atmospheric and conceptually complete space,” Zverev concluded. “Brick walls, raw wood, oxidized metal, bare concrete, oppose the warm and pleasant atmosphere, created by the right declaration of light and greenery.”

Mesh covers the ceiling and walls of the bathrooms of the Virgin Izakaya Bar
The interior of the bathrooms has a similar raw and untreated finish

The Virgin Izakaya Bar was shortlisted for Restaurant and Bar Interior of the Year at the 2021 Dezeen Awards.

Other nominated projects in the category include another restaurant in Kiev with bumpy clay walls and raw concrete surface from local studio Yakusha Design, and a restaurant with a lighting installation made up of a tangle of tubes. red neon lights in Berlin.