RCP managed the fitout and compliance for Commercial Bay’s 300sqm flagship tenancy, Ahi.
Ahi means ‘fire’ in te reo Māori. Like its menu, the restaurant’s material palette was inspired by the local landscape – colours of the New Zealand flora and eight different species of native timber were integrated into the servery component.
In many ways, Ahi could be called a retrofit as it inhabits a space originally intended to be external. The job required considerable effort to seal it in and protect it from the elements, and to re-route all the building’s services required to accommodate that shift. Notably, it’s not just the heavy design focus and concentration of finishes that is unique to hospitality; it’s also the intensity of services. It is something that is often underestimated in food and beverage – it can’t just be aesthetic, it also has to function well.
What RCP brought to Ahi is experience. Typically, tenants are used to moving into an existing building and fitting out their space, something they can see and measure. But in a new-build environment, the space isn’t visible for some time and the plans tenants receive are a snapshot of the design status. The base build, too, is in a constant state of flux and there are multiple opportunities for the design to change as the project progresses.
Commercial Bay was no different. RCP worked with the client and consultant team to ensure the design for Ahi remained flexible so any changes would have a limited effect on the outcome. With its role overseeing delivery of the entire Commercial Bay project, RCP understood the ‘big picture’ and Ahi’s place in it. The team assisted with the coordination and direction of the design and the fitout. This knowledge of the project’s intricacies and its existing relationships with the various contractors on site allowed RCP to get things done at pace.
The job required compromise when issues arose. RCP’s approach was to start with a hui where everyone’s opinion was heard, then it assessed what the fastest solution would be and made a recommendation.
Today, Ahi is a great asset to Auckland’s hospitality industry.