Immersive restaurant sits at the intersection of design, gastronomy and performance

Auyl is an experimental restaurant project in the Medeu mountain district, the outcome of a creative collaboration between architects, artists, artisans, designers, and creative producers.

Working together, they have created an immersive space that exists at the intersection of gastronomy and performance.


Auyl gives its guests the experience of participating in the process through lighting, sound, atmosphere, textures, and smells. The Auyl restaurant offers signature riffs on the cuisine of Central Asia. The design project is a result of a collaboration of architectural studio NAAW and design studio DUNIE.

Elvira Bakubayeva and Aisulu Uali, architects and founders of the NAAW firm, in cooperation with designer Assel Nusipkozhanova (DUNIE): “We’ve created not just a space but emotions – the interior architecture and setting of the Auyl restaurant spur sensations in visitors. In terms of architecture, we were tasked with making something spacious, powerful, and breathtaking for guests from the very moment they set foot in the restaurant. While working on this project, we researched and cycled through different iterations in order to find the most effective configuration.”

We settled on the idea of an open-kitchen restaurant so that guests can witness the entire cooking process. From different vantage points inside the restaurant, whether it’s from the cushioned floor of the Topchan area, a stool at the bar, or a traditional table and chair, one can see everything that is happening in the kitchen – the main stage. The domes above the cooking area are visually reminiscent of bowls – an important element of nomadic architecture – and visually demarcate the guest area from the cooking area. Subdued lighting creates a mysterious atmosphere, similar to the auditorium of a theatre.

Lighting is only one element of the performance. A guest can see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen – chefs kneading dough, churning kumys, baking flatbread in a tandoor oven, and grilling meat. The dynamic atmosphere, combined with the whistling of the wind, rustling leaves, and chirping birds, immerse our guests in dining. The open floor plan, original lighting, and sounds of nature make our guests participate in a whimsical show that transports them to the vastness of the steppe. We wanted to share a heartfelt and sincere story with Auyl’s guests.

Images by Damir Otegen, Yulo Khan, Zarina Zoman and Sergey Kuchin via Arch Daily

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