Location / Vancouver
Project Type / Commercial Interiors
Size / sf
Located in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighbourhood, NOX restaurant explores the fusion of traditional Italian cuisine with Pacific Northwest ingredients. When approached by the restaurant owners, Leckie Studio drew inspiration from the restaurants name, NOX, the Roman goddess of the night. When visitors dine at NOX they are immersed in a deep blue world. Stained concrete floors and columns, venetian plaster walls, indigo stained plywood ceilings, ceramic tiles, and custom metal work were all meticulously selected and tested to create a space where materials are subtly identified through texture rather than color or hue.
The restaurant consists of a primary, street-facing, dining area and a private dining room located at the rear. The kitchen, food pass, and secondary service spaces separate the two dining rooms. As patrons walk to the restrooms, or further to the private dining room, they pass by the vibrant open kitchen allowing them to witness the food that’s being prepared for them.
The primary design challenge came from establishing order to the otherwise disjointed base building condition. Comprised of several intersecting grids, the space was left with few parallel surfaces. Coffer ceilings were employed to demarcate and strike a visual cadence over the dining spaces. Constructed of Baltic birch plywood boxes, the coffers conceal lighting while simultaneously revealing the additional height of the space. The rhythm of the ceiling tracks to the walls as custom oxidized copper light fixtures slip from between the coffers and wash the texture of the plaster walls with a diffuse, grazing light. A cohesive palette distilled into deep blues and copper tones creates material order throughout the space. Patina’d leather upholstery compliments the aged copper panels, curtains, and light fixtures. Blue plaster, tiles, stained concrete, and ceiling treatments are nearly indistinguishable in the low level, atmospheric lighting.
Hovering above the bar is a panelized perforated copper canopy. The glowing volume acts as a lantern for the dining space, casting dappled light across the walls and ceiling. Its warm glow can be seen from the street, inviting passersby to experience the restaurant.
Rigorous tile data and dimensions appear throughout the project. Booth seating, millwork transitions, and durable wall bases are all determined by a three-tile module, the same dimension as the grade change throughout the restaurant. Additional restaurant storage can be found within the tile plinths. Handrail standoffs slip into the grout lines and partition walls are dimensioned to match tile widths. These efforts minimize cut tiles, ease constructability, and instill a layer of subliminal order to the space.
The remaining walls and ceilings throughout the restaurant are covered entirely in venetian plaster, hand troweled by a local craftsman, perfectly embodying the values of the restaurant. Traditional techniques and materials placed in a contemporary context, executed to the highest standard by local artisans.