The newest option in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Neem Tree Lounge & Restaurant by 4SPACE, offers the finest in Emirati cuisine and interiors that reflect the region’s fascinating culture.

The client wanted a restaurant to be all about Emirati food to reflect the Emirati culture, climate, and resources of the region. The chefs will present important dishes native to the UAE. To reflect this cultural importance, 4SPACE was tasked to reflect the traditional customs and lifestyles of the native people within the design. 4SPACE used simple building materials were to celebrate conventional construction yet reflect extraordinary design so important in this modern city.

4SPACE has used modern archways throughout the design, which have become the hero element. The use of curves introduces an organic feeling and connects the space with nature for a sense of biophilic living. In nature, you’ll never find perfectly straight lines. The interiors deliver a sense of relief and peace to the diners. The use of arches helps define large spaces without completely cutting the connection between them. One can easily feel the limits of each space without feeling overwhelmed with the overall large space. The execution included reinforcing the existing building. It was previously used as a commercial space, so some walls had to be demolished to form open spaces suitable for dining.

4SPACE used GRC panels to clad the façade. Outside, the gardens were landscaped with many neem trees, water features and fabric shades. About the ambience: The venue is minimal in design and culturally influenced, with many elements from across the region. The expansive floor to ceiling windows allows daylight to flood into the open spaces giving them a bright and airy feel. The arches give a slightly oriental touch. Challenges overcome: The building was repurposed from a workplace that used to be the Dubai International Financial Centre project site office into a restaurant venue. It required many structural changes and presented workflow and space planning challenges. The location of the kitchen and bar had to be reconsidered.

The restaurant is surrounded by imposing skyscrapers in the middle of the busy financial hub of the city; the façade design had to be unique with its simplicity and create a visual contrast to its surroundings. Unique and key features: The facade design is minimal and inspired by the local culture. The colourful logo and unique design added a pop of colour to the otherwise neutral palette allowing it to stand out from the surrounding modern skyscrapers. The Picasso-esque artwork murals on the restaurant walls were created by Art Painting Lab. Technical elements: There was some MEP and structural complications caused by the repurposing of the building from the Dubai International Financial Centre project site office to the restaurant venue. Material selection: A mix of geometric terrazzo tiles was used to form the various parts of the logo. Hollow bricks were used in the wall cladding, partitions and bar facia.

Photo courtesy: Anas Rifai