Restaurant 0 / studio Kuidas.works
Maria Helena Luiga, Andrea Tamm, Henri Papson, Hannes Praks
Text description provided by the architects. The design studio creates a zero-waste temporary catering space for a TV show, examining how design can and should be used as a tool to draw attention to the footprint of the design and construction industry.
Last summer, the slow-tech space design studio kuidas.works* (kuidas? – how? in Estonian) was invited to participate in an Estonian TV series Restaurant 0 which aimed to accomplish a rather difficult task: to build a restaurant in 7 days. at zero cost, thanks to intelligent recycling. The restaurant was designed and built in the ruins of a 19th century sausage shop in the old town of Viljandi, a small town in southern Estonia. Last week, the project was announced as the winner of the Union of Estonian Interior Designers Annual Award 2021 at the annual Estonian Architecture Awards Gala.
Suppose a design studio is generously given the opportunity to explore the full range of design possibilities to create a dining experience from scratch with zero budget and without leaving a noticeable footprint. In this case, of course, the question “how?” jumpscares. By recycling waste, we can reduce the footprint of fast consumption. However, even when materials are reused, the result can still end up in landfills or incineration. The recycling process itself can also be quite costly or resource-intensive. Elaborating on this view, the design team decided to extend the zero-spend paradigm in the TV show by coming up with a conceptual centerpiece for the restaurant – a 15-ton adobe table.
The table was an exploration of the simplest ancient methods – created using the clay technique, using only hand tools and natural materials. Tons and tons of clay were first sun-dried, then sifted through an old spring mattress frame, carried bucket by bucket through the frame, and finally rammed into a standing dining table. The earth was mainly of local origin and came from a nearby clay quarry. Typical of the Devon era, the earth of southern Estonia fluctuates in shades of yellow and ochre. The darker red clay also came from the region: Lithuania. The other main materials used in the project were sand – to level the floor – and whitewash paint to neutralize the graffiti covered walls.
The volumes of clay and sand used could easily be reused, but even if the dirt table were left in ruins, the materials used would not burden the environment and the table would slowly but surely crumble and disappear. In total, less than 1% of the materials – just the dishes – require further recycling. The materials used for the dishes were wooden trays made from old floors from the site, bowls cut from 3 liter glass jars, steel plates and copper tube sleeves used as holders for drinking glasses. drink.
The pop-up restaurant was built to seat 12 people for a one-night, 4-course dinner. The standing table was meant to support presence and awareness, adding focus to the dining experience as it won’t let you forget where you are and why. Getting out of your comfort zone is the prerequisite for understanding ecological issues, which was the backstory of the whole show. Design doesn’t have to be about comfort. It can and should be used as a tool for attracting attention, as the design and construction industry has one of the heaviest footprints. So whether turning to simple technology is practical or not, or whether there are other solutions, is the central question in the concept of this work.
Going forward, the kuidas.works team is looking for challenges to integrate low-tech design and construction methods into public space while thinking of it as an upgrade rather than a downgrade. The studio aims to change the paradigm – to take natural construction methods and materials from marginality to normalcy.