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Building , AF Gruppen

A little piece of Asia in Oslo

Popular concept

"A lot of people call this little Venice," says Finn-Axel Rasmussen with a smile.

He is the founding director of Sibus AS and is working on the Sumo restaurant concept, which has already been established in Bergen, Stavanger, Jessheim and Oslo, and will soon open in Tromsø and Trondheim. Sumo Bjørvika is currently the latest addition and Rasmussen is bubbling over with enthusiasm. 

"We are really pleased. The restaurant has functioned well under great pressure. We opened on May 26 and it's been fully booked ever since," he says.


The restaurant is located on the quayside in Bispevika, in one of the distinctive buildings that make up Vannkunsten, built by AF. Here there are canals between the houses and stairs down to the sea. Kayaks hang on the quays. Out in the bay, a couple are out paddling on SUP boards.

From the other side of the venue you can look across the street to Queen Sonja's art gallery. New shops and bars are opening at a fast pace, and Finn-Axel Rasmussen is up to date on most things happening in the neighbourhood. He has taken a seat in the sunken room in Sumo Restaurant’s tatami room together with a cheerful bunch from AF Byggfornyelse who have been responsible for the interior works and décor.

"It's harder to build a restaurant than to build other types of buildings," Rasmussen says. 

"Nothing is standard, and a thousand things need to be specially designed. But AF was attentive to our needs and we maintained a very good tone throughout. The organisation was as little rigid as is possible when working with a contractor of that size, so all credit is due to you, the project team," he says.

A lot of technology in a small space

Project manager Amina Hauger, project engineer Sindre Søfting Vestby and engineering manager Bastian Solbakken have previously worked together on the Maaemo restaurant and brought their experience from there to the Sumo restaurant.

"What is complex about building a restaurant is that an extreme amount of technology has to fit into a small space. For example, here the kitchen is open. This makes grease and smoke from cooking a challenge to the indoor climate," says Amina Hauger.

"And we have zero tolerance for food smells in the restaurant," says Rasmussen.

Another distinctive feature of working on a restaurant is that there are particular demands with regard to moulding and other details," says Bastian Solbakken.

"In a canteen kitchen, it should be straightforward and functional, but not necessarily so attractive. Everything has to be 100 percent here, he explains, and boasts of the good cooperation with the tenant.

Own identity

The restaurant is full of thoughtful details, from the custom-made tables to the wallpaper reflecting the latticework and the cherry tree hanging from the ceiling. On the way to the toilets you pass a concrete wall with trickling water, and inside the toilets awaits what is perhaps the biggest surprise: Animated fish swim around on screens mounted on the floor.

Finn-Axel Rasmussen and his staff use the same architect and the same supplier of commercial kitchens, sound, lights and décor for all the Sumo restaurants. All the same, each restaurant has its own identity. It’s not meant to be copy and paste, and each restaurant should be a unique experience.

Met all targets

Rasmussen followed the project closely during the construction period and got to know the AF gang well.

"There was a fantastic environment on the construction site, even during the worst corona period. People helped each other, and didn’t shout at each other. We also had social events along the way and regular sit downs. That’s important, because in a place like this, you can't design everything in an office. You have to make some decisions on site," Rasmussen explains.

"In this project, there was a short distance from idea to decision," says project manager Amina Hauger.

During a kick off, common goals were set for all the players involved in the project. The objectives were:

  • Satisfied customer = desire for further cooperation
  • Good review in AF Posten
  • Keep to the budget
  • Less than 10 points after preliminary inspection until final inspection, all trades combined
  • Hand over a satisfactory end result on time without errors and deficiencies

"Now we achieve the last point we agreed on – to get a review in AF Posten," laughs Finn-Axel Rasmussen.