January, 2021 | By The Room Architecture and Design
Three new hospitality projects taken on by The Room Architecture and Design blend the elegance and charm of old concepts with the ultra-stylish of modern city life – not only fitting for Cambodia’s new generation of hip city dwellers but a thoughtful homage to one of New York’s finest creations.
New York’s triangular triumph of architecture, the towering Flatiron building, has found its twin in Phnom Penh. Daun Penh district’s new landmark skyscraper is a 41-storey mixed development project from Meridian International Holding, a contemporary glass take of the 1900s limestone and terracotta icon.
Partnering with Meridian to meet the expectations of Phnom Penh’s growing class of self-starters seeking a metropolitan lifestyle is Thalias Hospitality Group, the name behind the well-loved Khéma, Malis and Topaz restaurant brands. Alongside Grade A offices, state-of-the-art serviced apartments and hotel rooms will be a sumptuous choice of fine dining experiences for the city’s savviest entrepreneurs, business travellers, executives and more.
The Room Architecture and Design is helping the Group expand its palate with the opening of the third Phnom Penh branch of the free-flow favourite Khéma, its takeaway equivalent Khéma Go, as well as a brand new concept, a classy steakhouse and wine bar called Siena. Located on the 27th and 28th floor, both restaurants will overlook a sprawling Phnom Penh through an impressive and all-encompassing glass facade.
The particular challenge for Khéma, as a recognized restaurant and brand in Cambodia, was to strike the balance of fresh but familiar – to respect its warm, home-like ambience made for comfort food and a kind of quaint nostalgia but update it for the ultra-modern city block and fast-paced business customer. The goal was to replicate the look and feel of the original Khéma restaurants, both ground floor establishments located in fairly intimate spaces. We chose good acoustics, ambient lights, comfortable seats and earthy colours. Khmer bricks and a dark hardwood floor, key features of both Khéma La Poste and Khéma Pasteur, are tastefully contrasted against the glass walls and dazzling city views.
Sitting one floor below Khéma is Thalias’ new concept, Siena Restaurant and Wine Bar, which takes its name from a mountainous medieval city in central Italy. The restaurant’s interior aims to capture Siena’s elegance and sense of affinity between the city and the natural landscape, the design taking advantage of the elevation and view of Phnom Penh, especially at night. At the entrance guests are welcomed through an archway reminiscent of a magnificent Italian church – here, however, traditional ornate stained glass is replaced with textured windows that reflect the light coming from behind, creating a delicate river of shadows through the lobby. Patrons are absorbed into a warm, intimate space.
The interior character is built through soft, indirect lighting, subdued music and plush seating. Dark wood provides a warm and luxurious contrast to the modern, industrial feel of the floor to ceiling windows and aluminium frame. With the glass making this an acoustically challenging space, using engineered wood in this way also helps dampen sound. A rough cement finish on the wall panels keeps the feel of the place not overly formal and old-fashioned.
Completing the trio is Khéma Go, a capsule version of Khéma that sells ready-packaged gourmet sandwiches, salads and baked treats as well as hot and cold drinks. Tucked in a corner of the ground floor lobby, this small, delightful establishment poses a particular design challenge as it needs to reflect the Khéma brand in an open space.
Flatiron by Meridian is currently under construction. For updates on the design progress, check our news page!
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