Silk Road is a restaurant at Auckland International airport landside food court serving a variety of Asian cuisines.
As part of the refurbishment the airport required a change of menu to focus on Thai food, although Chinese and Indonesian food is also served, therefore the design needed to reflect this combination of influences.
We started by considering the overall “Look and feel” of the newly formatted restaurant and, because the intention was not to reflect only one cuisine, we decided to make it look like a late-colonial merchant house restaurant, as is common throughout Asia.

We wanted to portray this pan-Asian theme without listing the various types of cuisine that were offered so we designed and commissioned wall murals of an Asian street theme, which could be interpreted as being from any food market street in different parts of Asia. The interior was deliberately dark-finished with a number of random light fittings hanging from the ceiling. This ceiling was panelled to look like the underside of a merchant-house floor. The front of the counter is covered in genuine Chinese antique bricks, each of them being well over a hundred years old. The ceiling is painted in brown rust paint. Neon street-food signs complete the look.

The metal screens on the exterior, which also provide security from sleepy backpackers, are reminiscent of those featured in Thailand and China. Similarly dark-stained timber panels were chosen as if it had been around for a century or so. Finally faux brick walls were added and whitewashed to add to this simulation of age.

We believe that the result does offer an of the impression of real backstreet Thai restaurant. In spite of reducing the seating by more than half, sales are strong and the staff no longer have to evict unconscious or grumpy backpackers at the start of every shift.

Photography by Sampford Cathie.

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