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Rappu handroll bar in Singapore: a unique, mixed preservation and industrial project


Hospitality  /  Completed
RAPPU is a 36-seat specialty hand roll omakase sushi concept that offers a striking design worthy of the largest venue of its kind in Singapore. Housed in a heritage-preserved shophouse on Duxton Road in a neighborhood known for its bustling dining and bar scene, OWIU Studio’s design for RAPPU is based around the intention to preserve and transform two shophouses into one structure. Maintaining the exposed timber ceiling beams and raw concrete flooring, the industrial aesthetic of the original space is still showcased while reimagining it as a chic restaurant.

“Omakase” is the Japanese word for “chef’s choice” and is a common concept in traditional sushi bars where the experience centers around a bar behind which a chef serves his or her customers directly. OWIU had to deploy intelligent solutions in order to accommodate a counter bar that could seat up to thirty persons, settling on an ambitious idea: a single continuous quartz bar, spanning close to 20-meters long. The studio’s approach required creating a 6-meter-long (19.6-feet) opening of what used to be 0.3m wide load-bearing brick. A steel post and lintel system with newly-poured foundation was thus required to replace a bearing of this scale.

A customized 20 meter-long-steel profile RGB LED light wraps the space above the counter, mimicking the overall profile of the bar. The layout of the bar was designed parametrically to optimize guest and staff circulation and kitchen-to-diner workflow. The result is a dramatic dining surface and open space, where the light syncs with music and movement, illuminating the venue with dynamic color as the day progresses. There is a sensorial experience that comes when eating in a space that connects audio and movement, which is then translated visually through the lights - creating rapid movements as well as different hues and intensity of light throughout the entire bar.

In this unique, mixed preservation and industrial project, OWIU has upheld the integrity and legacy of the building's original structure, a Duxton Road shophouse, while constructing a modern space reflective of Singapore’s bold future and unique architectural fingerprint. At the core of OWIU’s vision lies the dramatic, LED lighting system suspended above the bar, which syncs with the time of day. Singaporean architects have long embraced the fact that humans need to connect with nature, thus incorporating green spaces and water throughout the city’s urban landscape. Similarly, OWIU has incorporated a key aspect of the natural world: light and sound. By connecting the LED lights to sound, movement, and spatial distribution of daylight, the space is in harmony with nature.

The architecture of Singapore, like RAPPU, was built from a range of influences, creating a patchwork of styles stemming from its multi-cultural makeup. RAPPU is housed within the Tanjong Pagar Conservation Area (which is composed of two- and three-story shops built between the early-1800s and mid-1900s) yet it boasts a brutalist architecture (which was popular in the 1970s in Singapore). The addition of an adaptive lighting scheme is indicative of the modern world, as today’s generation is used to fluid “smart” electronics and design that shift to nature and the users themselves.

OWIU wanted the energy of the restaurant to be high - to have all the energy bounce from one element to another. Rappu means wrap in Japanese, which is a nod at sushi hand rolls but it also means Rap, as in rap music. So, the concept of the restaurant is a fun and lively sushi bar, where one can visit with friends, eat hand rolls, and listen to hip hop and rap. The high energy needed to be captured sensorily through design by creating an active atmosphere where everything relates to movement and sound.

OWIU Studio also aided in the overall branding of the new restaurant and worked closely with top ceramicist Ayu Larasati from Indonesia in designing custom ceramics and other wares that mirror the energy of the restaurant.


 176 mq
 Amanda Gunawan (Founding Principal), Joel Wong (Founding Principal), Claudia Wainer (Architectural Associate), Eduardo Cortazar (Architectural Associate)
 Amanda Gunawan (Founding Principal), Joel Wong (Founding Principal), Claudia Wainer (Architectural Associate), Eduardo Cortazar (Architectural Associate)
 M&E Works/ Concrete works and Ying Tao Construction
 Lightcraft, 3S Solid Surface, Artform Wood Products
 Finbarr Fallon


OWIU, an abbreviation for The Only Way Is Up, is a full-service Architecture and Design office located in the heart of Los Angeles. Our office and showroom is located in the burgeoning Art’s District, a spot that has become the Silicon Valley for young creatives. Our fields of expertise include Architectural design, Construction, Urban Design and Product Design. We also provide Architectural visualization services. We approach every project with a strong emphasis on aesthetics and precision of form, coupled with a strong narrative and conviction.

Imbued in the practice lies an innovative and progressive mindset that naturally creates a mission to propel design forward given the technological advances of contemporary society. OWIU is the brainchild of Joel Wong and Amanda Gunawan, two designers with proficient architectural knowledge.


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