Expanding the client brief, we looked to add further value by creating a dynamic and sculptural building that enhances its historic surroundings, while incorporating new public space and greenery.
Responding to Context
Our point of departure for the design was a Grade II listed wall – originally part of an earlier military asylum on the site but which stood slightly incongruously at the edge of the square. The new building’s spiralling form is defined by a slender off-white concrete wall that curls upwards from the square, conceptually offering a contemporary continuation of the historic wall.
While the main restaurant space can be seen as a classically-informed colonnade, its form and sense of movement nevertheless give the restaurant an unmistakably contemporary character.
The curves of the large plate glass windows within the colonnade echo the modernist façade of the Grade II* listed Peter Jones department store nearby, while pioneering technology continues that spirit of glazing experimentation. A bespoke steel frame allows the panels within the three wider openings to be retractable, completely opening up the ground floor space during fine weather and allowing the restaurant to spill onto the surrounding Duke of York Square, while the roof continues to provide shade.
Although similar retraction systems have been installed outside the UK, all have used straight panels. This makes the restaurant the first example of a retractable curved glass system in the world, while celebrating a mechanism that is as strikingly simple as a weighted sash window, sliding down gracefully into a basement trench.
Throughout the scheme’s development, Nex worked closely with the whole project team to deliver the restaurant, pushing the boundaries of innovation to bring the original vision to life. Now an unmissable contribution to the culinary revival taking place across the area, we’re delighted to welcome this new landmark for the King’s Road."
Hugh Seaborn CEO, Cadogan Estate, London
New Public Realm
At the outermost layer of the building’s spiral, an open staircase leads to a new roof garden above the restaurant. Open freely to the public and accessed independently from the space below, this garden is a meaningful contribution to the neighbourhood where people can sit or spend time among the canopies of surrounding trees, raised up from the bustle of the busy square and road below. The roof is finished in wood, while large steel planters follow the spiralling shape of the building to introduce luscious planting, promoting biodiversity and enhancing the environment.
Inside, the concrete ribbon culminates in a service core and servery at the heart of the restaurant. The stone patterning revealed in the polished edges of the structural arches can also be seen in the black terrazzo flooring. Stone finishes are complemented by the metal wall paneling and the craftsmanship found in the acoustic ceiling. Ash wood slats are arranged to celebrate the building’s spiral form, adding a sense of movement to the space. Bright light from the large glass windows is tempered by fabric curtains.
Downstairs, the basement level contains a private dining space, the restaurant kitchen, WCs and plant – including the trenches for the glazing mechanism where its large steel counterweights are housed.
Driven by a fabric first approach to reduce the carbon footprint, the building achieves a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. Wherever possible, materials with a high green guide rating were used, and sourced responsibly. The concrete structure has a high thermal mass and high insulation values, minimising heat transfer in summer and heat loss in winter. Similarly, the glazing system has low solar transmission to further decrease heat transfer, with exceptional airtightness levels thanks to a bespoke sealing system.
The public areas are designed to be naturally ventilated throughout the year via the retractable windows. A high-efficiency air source heat pump supplies heating in colder months and cooling in summer, delivered via the ground slab, while the basement is ventilated using a high-efficiency heat reclaim ventilation system. Throughout the building, lighting is provided by low-energy fittings.
Click here to read a further case study on this project.
Viscount Chelsea, Chairman, Cadogan Estate, London
- Vardo Restaurant
- Cadogan Estate
- October 2019
- £5.5 Million
- Public RealmLeisure
- Alan DempseyKeti CarapuliRowan MorriceKwon JungMatt HepburnJulian Raffetseder
- James Britain
- Structural Engineer: AKTII Environmental consultant: E+M Tecnica Cost consultant: Equals & TTPP Lighting: DHA Designs Landscape: Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Heritage Consultant: Donald Insall Associates Project manager: Capital & Provincial Environmental Design: Eight Associates Planning: Gerald Eve Contractor: Westgreen Interior Design: Box 9