The Moving Kitchen Restaurant / J.C. Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. In Feb 2019, the Taiwanese society criticized heavily an expensive yet unsightly new tourism train. Forus, JC Architecture, instead of complaining, we wrote an open letter with encouragement and positivity totell the Taiwanese society that Taiwanese designers can make a change. It led us to the opportunity to design Taiwan’s first-ever tourist train, “The Future,” eventually awarded the Japanese Good Design Award.
Recently, JC Architecture reimagined everyone’s impression of a train, building the first railway kitchen in Taiwan, named “The Moving Kitchen.” The logo of it, “R,” stands for “Restaurant, Railway, Reimagination,” we want to create a language that connects the culture but also brings excitement witha new experience.
“The Moving Kitchen” is a 54 person seating restaurant that travels, including a full-size kitchen, bars, lounges, two-seater, and four-seater dining arrangements. Instead of buying a new train from foreign train design companies, the Taiwan Railway Administration allowed us to take the courage of using 70-year-old railcars, to refurbish the old heritage with new programmatic possibilities.
However, moving a restaurant onto the old train has its challenges, such as boosting three times the power to fit cooking requirements or redesigning the fixed chairs so getting in and out is comfortable. Besides, we took care to redesign the lighting system, highlighting the food, as well as complementing the scenery outside throughout the journey. A playable metallic sculptural light is also inserted onto the train to create a floral sensation with the dining experience.
Unable to alter any train structural profile or insert beautiful skylight windows, through research, we noticed the unique character of trains in Taiwan. That is the train always travels the island with the mountain on the right side, and the ocean on the left side. To reflect on the beauty of both views, we created an asymmetrical ceiling design, to open the window bigger with black frames on the ocean side, while using the natural wood element to compliment the mountain side. With the same asymmetric design, we concentrated lighting, air-condition, speaker system, into a single profile line, which also acts as a guide path to lead passengers throughout the train.
“We want to create the unique railway dining that you can only experience in Taiwan,” said the founder Johnny Chiu. We believe that it is for the first time in the 132-year-old Taiwan Railways Administration history, a new self-identity emerged to bring confidence and hope to an outdated 15,000 people company, and revive the conventional railway with innovative design policies on a national level.