Located in Sirkeci, in the centre of Istanbul’s historic neighbourhood, the “informal and stylish” interior for the new Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant sets itself apart from the many fast food restaurants built around the idea of getting customers in and out quickly.
The design for the well-known fast-food brand was developed by Cagdas Belen and Tanem Eren Belen, founders of Istanbul-based architectural firm CBTE Architecture. It reinterprets the traditional architectural templates identified for fast food restaurants and offers a visually rich interior look that combines retro and modern accents.
With nearly 17,000 restaurants around the world, the brand launched last year a radical new design concept, which it said represents “the future of interior design for KFC”. The overall design focus is on creating an attractive, contemporary image that draws customers’ attention and gives them a great overall restaurant experience.
“The new concept we prepared last year was our first challenge since KFC restaurants worldwide now demonstrate this innovative approach. Our starting point was to connect the old historical building experience with that of KFC. We tried to use materials that are in harmony with the texture of the building and have an intense feeling of life experience.”
The interiors feature furniture with clear and simple lines and the distinctive KFC red, the colour customers associate with the brand. Choice of materials was another vital factor in delivering the new vision for the fast food eatery.
“We used travertine for the flooring, rough brick services on the walls, and semi-permeable and flowing mesh plaques for the ceiling that barely cover the roof panelling. In terms of furniture, we used mostly natural wood and marble,” says Belen.
The kitchen and lobby areas were defined by the difference in elevation inside the restaurant, which presents a rectangular lobby area. The permeable mesh used to hide the equipment installed on the ceiling was used with an integral approach to creating the upper cover of the entire lobby.
One of the details created by CBTE Architecture, and which truly stands out at KFC Sirkeci, is the ceramic tiles designed for the most visible wall surface of the restaurant. These tiles were both optimally sized and hand-painted.
Creating the architectural concepts of the Turkish restaurants of KFC, the architects wanted to reinterpret the accustomed understanding of a fast food restaurant in the historic and cultural context of Sirkeci, while using a contemporary aesthetic to offer a modern ambiance.
Integrating data from KFC’s global corporate identity with local components and interpreting it in a modern view in the context of the location, the final result embodies a strong scheme bearing all the above-mentioned properties.
Its main facade facing the Bosporus is located at a spot where guests can view the Galata Bridge, which is close to the Sirkeci Railway Station.
All the main decisions made during the design and application process were informed by the aim of creating a ‘flagship’ restaurant that is in harmony with the historic area in which it is located and where KFC can exhibit its strong corporate image.
The stone flooring that is in harmony with the exterior, the rich-textured natural wood and marble, and ceramics were brought together to increase the effect together with the brick walls dominating the entire space. This captures the contemporary effect specific to the place.
Tanem Eren Belen says: “Just the mere physical properties of the restaurant we designed for KFC in Sirkeci were enough to set us out on a very exciting beginning. In each stage of the design process, we made efforts to add a detail that would lend the project a more special feeling and to reinterpret KFC’s presence in Turkey with touches from this country in the architectural sense. We believe that the result was out of the ordinary and special both for us and for the brand”.