An attractive urban space along the shoreline of Lake Constance, where the Swiss lakeport town Romanshorn and the SBS Swiss corporate shipping line meet, hosts the newly designed Hafen Restaurant. Erected on a promenade built into the lake, Susanne Fritz’s firm, Virtual Design Unit based in Zürich, created an interior for the restaurant characterised by ships and the seafaring world, with a bright and breezy lighting scheme to match.
Following the recent rennovation of the SBS shipping line’s port building and shipyard as historic landmarks, Fritz had a challenge in transforming what was a former storeroom into a restaurant, fully symbolic of nautical science while pertaining to the building’s historic function. Project managed by Benno Gmür, a delegate of Virtual Design Unit’s administrative board and reorganiser of the company, the team maintained many of the structure’s original features, while focusing on the potential of additional details to create an interior theme relating to the location’s heritage.
Five portholes were inserted into the side-walls with diameters of up to 1.4m, envisaged to create transparency vis-à-vis the adjacent premises and optically enlarge the space, which is only around 150sq.m. To link the ship theme with the directly adjoining offices belonging to SBS, both the ticket hall and access to offices leased to third parties on the upper floors were redesigned as well.
Restaurant guests are greeted by Karlskrona Lampfabriken’s Heidenstam Bowl lamps in the immediate entrance, which opens up into the central dining and bar area, where Davey Lighting’s aluminium pendants are suspended above tables and Nattlampa oil lamps providing direct light on each table, also by Karlskrona Lampfabriken. Guests can help themselves to a buffet of seafood and other freshly prepared foods in the centre of the dining area, where Original BTC’s Ginger Bracket Wall lights feature on the central fish-printed pillar for additional illumination.
Although a large-scale kitchen to provide catering for the shipping trade was already in place at the rear of the building, a portion of the restaurant was sacrificed in favour of a satellite kitchen to keep routes short and workflows efficient. A curved ship’s prow adjoins the kitchen and acts as a bar counter and serving area to integrate the galley overlaid with steel bands and white painted metal sheeting. Protruding wooden ribs form an eye-catching design feature, visually obscuring the view of the ribbed ceiling; they merge into the rear wall of the restaurant, where trays and cabinets have been integrated.
An alcove with benches akin to those on the passenger boats that tour the lake offers porthole views of the underwater landscape on the opposite wall area. This area features a bar-stool table for more casual dining, where Czech designer Katerina Handlova’s Shibari pendants are suspended via rope tied around the glass. This lighting is based on the Japanese bondage technique called Shibari, wherein each part has its own binding that creates a kind of ornament.
The WCs are also in keeping with the nautical theme, with sparkling tiles ranging through the shades of the sea, enveloping guests in an underwater world. The walls glisten under the illumination of Original BTC’s Pillar Light Narrow Polished Brass wall fixtures on either side of the mirrors.
All of the restaurant’s pendants are flexibly and adjustably mounted on track lighting systems to fit in with the varying seating arrangements throughout the seasons.
Inspired by its surroundings and history, Fritz created in Hafen, a seafaring spacious and light environment for diners to enjoy each other’s company and delicate dishes. With an expansive view of Lake Constance and a nautical interior with details akin to those found on a ship, the restaurant is a truly unique dining experience lathered in the wonder of the underwater world.
Pics: Pierre Kellenberger