Temporary restaurant constructed in underpass, Southbank

2007/08 Social Gravity

London Metropolitan University undergraduate studio researching comfort in restaurant design.

As London changes, its public spaces and social character are under constant negotiation. There is an ever-present need to redefine our collective ambitions for the public realm and how they can be realised materially. What form should a contemporary architecture take that is able to establish and maintain a sense of belonging to the city first and foremost and to the world of commercial private interest second?

In this context, the unit studied restaurant design. The year began with detailed surveys of several exemplary London restaurants and bars, The Wolesley, Bistrotheque, Petersham Nurseries and Gordon’s. We then began to develop a restaurant brief from first principles by designing a meal in an open space, from the menu to the seating arrangement. Eventually proposals were developed for a site in Soho.

Restaurants usually occupy existing buildings. Therefore, designing new restaurant structures presented an unusual challenge. What should a restaurant façade be like? Does the building’s structure enable or hinder particular table layouts? Consequently, can an intimate dining experience have a spatial impact on the city?

Throughout the year we discussed the Austrian architect, Hermann Czech’s advice that a good restaurant should not be noticed but remembered. An even greater challenge then, to create a memorable background to a meal enjoyed. The role of the architecture might seem tautological at first, background and memorable seeming irreconcilable ideas. Consequently, the project requires a subtle, complex, irregular and possibly absurd response from the architect.

2nd Year Students
Elodie Drissi, Jaroslaw Engel, Civita Halim, Stephen Kennelly, Michael Oglaza, Nina Diaz Otia, Su-Ling Tseng, Kiriakos Tsirkinidis, Etsuko Yokoyama, Daria Zakrzenewska

3rd Year Students
Vasiliki Filippidi, Georgia Lampoura, Paul Little, Kingsley Odoemelam, Jamie Rosso, Fatima shareef, Mette Soerensen, Aleksandra Thomalla, Peter van Essen, Benjamin West

David Kohn and Emily Greeves

Pablo Flack, Bistrotheque, Client
Stuart Colam, Arup Acoustics, Acoustic Engineering
Steve Baker, Alan Baxter & Associates, Structural Engineering
Jane Jackson, Max Fordham LLP, Environmental Engineering

Hermann Czech, Christophe Grafe, Silvia Ullmayer, Florian Zierer