The flooring renovation of Restaurant Augusta in Göttingen

First used as potato storage cellar of Germany’s oldest refectory, then a jazz club, later a disco bar, and today the third business pillar of the star-rated gourmet chef Daniel Raub: the renovation of this 200 square metres large cellar vault required great sensitivity. Architectural and engineering ingenuity went hand in hand with interior design aspects. The materials used not only had to be suitable for giving the historically valuable basic structure of the building the right setting, but also resistant to the extreme stress to which they are exposed in gastronomic establishments. That is why ceramic tiles of the brand Agrob Buchtal were used for the floor of the new restaurant Augusta in the “Alte Mensa” (old refectory) in Göttingen.

In close collaboration with the historic monuments protection authority and the municipal archaeology office, the building has been fundamentally renovated since the beginning of 2014. The basic objective was to restore the original shape and room layout. Wherever historically valuable basic structure appeared, it was to be preserved. From 1922 to 2009, Germany’s first refectory was located there, which provided up to 2,000 students with meals on two floors every day. Since February 2016, conferences as well as festive and cultural events have taken place in the building. The Georg-August-University, which had the rooms renovated for 3.5 million euros, in this way responds to the increasing demand for bigger and flexibly usable facilities for conferences and events in the town centre of Göttingen.

Extensive renovation measures

A stairway leads down to a vaulted cellar, as it is quite typical of massive buildings in the town centre of Göttingen. Since 1974, it had no longer been used as potato storage cellar; it then became a jazz club, and later in the 1990s a disco bar.

In the course of the renovation measures for the restaurant Augusta, it turned out that the cellar ceilings of the building erected in 1825 were too low for the planned utilization. That is why the pillars and exterior walls were re-founded and underpinned (1.5 metres) according to the plans of the engineering office Gockel, Baunatal. The insulation as well as the technical installations such as ventilation, electricity and water were arranged below ground, so that the room height could be increased by a total of 40 centimetres. Within the seven-month construction period, the cellar received a second entrance in addition.

Functional aesthetics

The decisions concerning the interior were made by the tenant Daniel Raub himself. “As regards the floor covering, for example, it was important to me that all individual areas convey the impression of a unified whole“, the star-rated gourmet chef says. That is why it became apparent during the talks with the architect Tanja Gockel that ceramic tiles are the best solution. With this ecologically and economically advantageous material it is possible to design the diverse zones as a visual ensemble despite their different utilization requirements. An example for this is the counter area, which directly adjoins the dining area but requires a quite different slip resistance.

Because there, liquids and other slippery media can get on the floor“, Gockel explains. At the same time, a solution had to be found which, on the one hand, harmonizes with the look and haptics of the historic masonry but, on the other hand, also is robust and hard-wearing. One decided in favour of porcelain stoneware tiles of the series Valley of Agrob Buchtal. A harmonious visual impression is created not only by the authentic surface look with fine-grained structures or the chosen colour earth-brown, but also by natural raw materials such as coloured clay minerals and earths, which are used in the case of Valley.

In addition, the series comprises a wide range of formats and slip-resistance categories, so that the request for the format of 75 x 75 centimetres in the rarely offered slip-resistance category R11/B for the counter area could be satisfied without impairing the visual consistency. In the dining area, on the other hand, the chosen large format with slip resistance R10/A perfectly corresponds with the cross and barrel vaults as well as the rubble wall.

Tiles with in-plant surface upgrading

Unglazed floor tiles like those used here are hard-wearing and stress-resistant by nature. These advantages are further improved by the “Protecta“ upgrading already applied in the factory. During the firing process, the coating is ceramically bonded to the biscuit and closes the existing “micropores“ quite typical of unglazed ceramics. In this way, the penetration of substances forming stains is effectively prevented, and a laborious subsequent impregnation is no longer required. This is also confirmed by Raub, who previously had subjected different floor coverings to a practical test: “I spilled wine or other liquids on them, and the tile was the only material with which I had no problem afterwards. That convinced me, because thanks to this quality it offers me aesthetics and functionality at the same time.“

And thus, the ceramic tile series Valley is to be found throughout the restaurant - from the dining and the counter area to the sanitary rooms. It brings visual calm in the overall concept and yet creates an attractive contrast to the plastered walls as well as the other elements of the interior design. In the sanitary rooms, Valley was combined with wall tiles of the series Pasado and the corresponding decorative tile Cuna from the same collection. With its irregular lines as well as its unique piece character, it also underlines the naturalness of the location.

Safety in the workplace

In the kitchen and storage rooms, Tanja Gockel decided in favour of the ceramic tile series Emotion Grip of Agrob Buchtal. “It’s amazing which creative scope this series offers me especially at the design of functional rooms. The kitchen is a workplace in which many aspects must be taken into account. With colours and surfaces matched to each other, different slip-resistance categories up to R12V4 as well as a wide range of formats including a mosaic in R10/B, Emotion Grip is the ideal collection for this“, the architect explains the reasons for her decision.