Cafe Aylanto

Gol Market, Unit 1 & 2, Street 4, F-7/3, Islamabad

About Project

The Gol Market located in a posh area of Islamabad is a popular venue for fast food and other restaurants. The building was in poor shape because of multiple structural renovations. Moreover, the site at the dead-end was considered jinxed. The previous restaurant there, which closed down because of loss in business, strangely had all the good ingredients: a nice parking lot, posh location, and an open-air front-faced dining deck surrounded by lush old trees. The grapevine had it that the eatery before that also had to close down early because of bad business.

Sobia Nazir, a leading fashion designer, determined and optimistic by nature, saw this as a great opportunity to create an unparalleled fine dining restaurant in Islamabad.

DB Studios was appointed to design the restaurant at this site. The pressing challenge for the designers was to transform this disorderly-jinxed building into a leading classy restaurant that would attract the elite of Islamabad.

Studying the site thoroughly, the design team decided early to retain and build on the strong positive feature- the tropical environment created by the mature trees. The entrance was consciously relocated away from the center, creating a winding passage for the approaching diners through a jungle-like setting. Leading right up to the entrance of the building, colored tensile fabrics were stretched to offer partial cover and much-needed color in the outdoor dining area. Water features were dispersed throughout the deck to further enrich the outdoor dining experience.

The main entrance of the restaurant was pushed back into a recess in the curved front of the building, while the tensile fabric cover extends right into this recess. Full height glass is used to make the restaurant interior, including the stairs to the first floor, visible from the street, attracting passersby. The theme of wooden branches in the view from the street is complemented by random vertical fins of metal and carbonized wood installed on the building’s face, interspersed randomly with pots/planters containing bushes and creepers. The façade is kept in dark, to highlight the impact of the fins and the view of the interior through the glass.

Verandahs provide a partly outdoor ambiance also, besides the dining spaces inside the restaurant. The walls and floors in the interior are made of minimally finished surfaces while using shining brass lining embedded in the floor. This sheen of brass is also continued through tastefully picked decorative to add class, achieving the desired balance of finished and unfinished. Additionally, a glowing brass sheet is used as a backdrop to highlight the vertical circulation visible from the roadside. The fins of metal and carbonized wood, interspersed with planters, in the façade, are repeated in the interior as well to divide spaces and have maximum dining facility there. The feeling of spaciousness in the interior is enhanced by using full-height mirrors on some walls.

Creating a fascinating balance of classy ambiance with the tropical setting, the integration of themes in the exterior, the façade, and the interior has shaped a very pleasant venue for the locals who take pleasure in fine dining.