Riyaz Amlani’s national cafe-style bar chain, Social, launched its newest and most distinctive location to date: Social with Distancing. Located in the Dwarka landscape of the NCR and designed by New Delhi-based architecture firm Renesa, the restaurant is a response to the ‘new normal’ of the post-Covid world. With bio-bubbles six feet apart, roller shutters and blinds, and staggered two-story banquettes, this just might be a model for social distancing. What is interesting, however, is that it was conceptualized long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, and was due to launch in March 2020. “Luckily, it was designed to be ‘a way perfectly aligned with the regulations. of social distancing, ”says Arora, who worked closely with Amlani on the concept,“ and it was for the Social brand, which allowed for that bit of a pun. “
Arora’s inspiration for the design came from a trip he took to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where he saw how local materials – conical leaf hats, weatherproof stilt houses. floods, a proliferation of bamboo – made up the cityscape perfectly. “The character of the city is built through these alleys and alleys, crossed by trains, bicycles and pedestrians,” he says. “We were looking to recreate this cultural area in an architectural way, made entirely in India.”
Vietnam’s stilt houses inspired the restaurant’s raised banquettes, an opportunity offered by an impressive 16-foot ceiling height. The units are structured like a grid, built in steel frames covered with Russian birch plywood with a teak finish that references the wood lines of traditional Vietnamese architecture. White cement kadappa stone terrazzo floors reflect this grid formation, molded into a series of boxes placed within a larger frame. At the intersection of two different “zones” of the restaurant, the terrazzo floor is interrupted by a circle of radiating concrete pavers, in the center of which is the impression of an old Vietnamese manhole cover. Concrete reappears in the conical cupolas in the shape of emblematic leaves of Vietnam. Paired with custom-designed rattan lanterns and bold black wall fixtures, they create a subtle sense of old-world nostalgia. Finally, Arora dotted the space with tropical greenery, a tribute to the vegetation of bananas and bamboos that defines the Vietnamese landscape.