American red oak shows off its warmth at L28 Culinary Platform

Kimmel Eshkolot Architects design Israel's first chef accelerator restaurant in Tel Aviv

Launched by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), an NGO whose mission is to connect the world to Israeli innovation, L28 Culinary Platform is Israel's first chef accelerator restaurant. The restaurant, which is located on the ground floor of Start-Up Nation Central's new headquarters, has been designed by local architecture firm Kimmel Eshkolot Architects. Named after its address on Tel Aviv's storied Lilienblum Street, the restaurant boasts an innovative culinary concept, which sees a new and promising Israeli chef take up residency in the kitchen every six months. Taking the reins for the restaurant’s launch is Galilee born-and-raised Shuli Wimer, who honed her craft at London’s acclaimed River Café.

L28 Culinary Platform is a unique venture in the Israeli culinary space. The idea is to promote young chefs who would not normally have the opportunity to open their own restaurant. Twice a year, a different chef will be tapped to take over the kitchen and will be granted full creative license to explore his or her own culinary concept. Chefs are provided with laboratory conditions, including mentoring by professional staff so they can create an experience in the best possible conditions. The goal is to provide an industry entry point for fresh Israeli culinary talent, and to highlight Israeli culinary innovation to local and foreign audiences.

Kimmel Eshkolot Architects' interior planning divided the spacious interior of L28 Culinary Platform to serve its numerous functions. The double height of the space is emphasized through the installation of high wooden boards that fold towards Lilienblum Street and separate the various seating areas through a scrolling curtain. The street facing entrance features a raised platform for lounge meetings and operates mainly during the day. In addition, the internal main seating area of the restaurant is visible from all angles and frames the open kitchen. Above the kitchen, rests the gallery and private room for events.

“Slats of American red oak span the ceiling, where they are used to create hanging arches and partition walls that communicate the various different seating areas within the double height space. Red oak is also used to create a curtain of timber slats that can be lowered and raised, fitting neatly around the platforms to create extra privacy. Further, a series of red oak slats arch over the bar and kitchen area, whilst another series forms a bannister for the stairs. The aim was to vary the density and positioning of the slats on each panel to create undulating patterns while also controlling the light and views,” said Etan Kimmel, Co-Founder, Kimmel Eshkolot Architects.

L28's interiors and finishings are based on natural and warm materials, such as the slatted wood panels and leather upholstery, within the space. Timber cladding features prominently in the ceilings and furniture, while vegetation grows along an installed green wall and vertical agricultural planting in front of the kitchen. The visual scheme combines with the neutral materiality of a smooth concrete floor made of resin and black steel. An urban farm has also been developed on the roof of the building that serves in the restaurant's farm-to-table setup, along with spice plants in the green wall for use in the beverage bar.

“Our decision was mostly for aesthetic reasons as we wanted the warmth of American red oak in our contemporary design of the space that is within a glass cube – one that is completely transparent to the exterior sidewalks. It was also a great solution to the acoustic issues, particularly given the double height of the space. By using red oak in both veneer and solid lumber form, we have been able to allow the industrial and natural to embrace, as polished concrete walls are combined with sharp timber strands that fall from the ceiling in wave-like forms, while a vegetation wall sidles up to the black-steel-framed open kitchen,” concluded Kimmel.