KoCo (Kottayam Company) by Stapati

Fact File
Location: Kerala
Size: 307 sq m
Principal Architects: George Seemon and Anupama Achar
Photography by: Praveen Mohandas


KoCo (Kottayam Company) by Stapati is an adaptive reuse project that saw a 150-year-old residence being converted into a quirky eatery. Not only does it introduce a unique gastronomical highlight in the neighbourhood, but notably, it brings a new identity to an old site. The project transforms the site’s ancestral house through adaptive reuse into a quirky restaurant that resonates with the local population of the neighbourhood and breathes new life into the bustling street. Converting the dilapidated building into the KoCo restaurant was a multi-step intervention. This process involved rethinking the spaces to accommodate the building’s new functions. The spaces were meticulously assigned to optimise the site’s advantages. Bringing in ample natural light was pivotal to the design. By strategically designing the spaces, a minimal number of changes were made to the structure by removing a small segment of the original roof and parts of the walls. This ensured natural daylight flooding into the surrounding spaces and benefitting the adjoining zones.

Keeping in mind the original site with the ancestral Kerala house, the intent was to preserve the essence of the building while bringing in a distinctly new identity. A choice of minimal materials, such as MS sheets, glass, and cement, was made to create distinct elements that sit delicately with the existing structure. A metal sheet was used to carefully replicate the profile of the roof structure and strengthen the original roof and accentuate its distinct shape. This metal sheet insert was then carefully pulled out to create a distinct entry. This further defined the entrance block, leaving a contemporary yet rustic impression to give a new feel to the space. During the night, the metal entrance profile creates a vivid silhouette that attracts attention on a busy street. The MS steel insert was extended into the building, cladding some segments of the interior walls to create a new look without overshadowing the original brick walls. All the existing walls, which were retained, were kept intact in their natural finish. The original textured brick walls were left exposed to contrast with the newly finished cement flooring and walls. This further added character to the space, highlighting the past and present of the mature building.

The interior spaces are an interplay between warm materials designed to bring in the feeling of familiarity of the timeless space while giving the visitors an ever-so-slight feeling of transcending time. Simple wireframe furniture was selected to maintain a sense of lightness. The interior is peppered with a touch of the Kottayam Company’s characteristic yellow, which adds youthful energy to the spaces. The smooth, polished cement floor extends through the spaces, binding all the elements together, and is also used as a finish on the new walls. A section of the cement wall curves into a seating area and is highlighted with a distinctive yellow. Glass walls were introduced in the rooms adjoining the courtyards, bringing a sense of expanse and connectivity to the outdoors. A long community table was introduced to cater to the young student population of the locality. The community table extends from the interior seating zones to the exterior through the glass screen, creating a seamless transition to the outdoor area. The entire goal of the interiors was to provide the customers with a prominent feel of the old structure with a fresh twist from the new interventions.