this restaurant in south-west london has glass windows that can disappear from sight

this restaurant in south-west london has glass windows that can disappear from sight

UK architecture practice nex– has designed a restaurant and roof garden in chelsea, an area of south-west london. located on duke of york square, the building is the final element of the plaza’s redevelopment. conceived as a new landmark for the district, the sculptural structure aims to respect and enhance its prestigious surroundings, while incorporating new public space and greenery. the building’s spiraling form is defined by a slender off-white concrete wall that curls upwards from the square, while serving as a contemporary continuation of an historic wall that stands at the edge of the site.

all images © james brittain



‘while large openings housing the main restaurant space can be seen as a classically-informed colonnade, its impressive form and sense of movement nevertheless give the restaurant an unmistakably contemporary character,’ says nex–, a london-based firm founded in 2008 by alan dempsey. ‘as a piece of architecture that offers pleasing views when approached from all sides, the completed building is a graceful addition to the square with an intriguing and welcoming presence.’



a bespoke steel frame prevented the need for horizontal mullions, while the glass panels within the three wider openings are retractable, opening up the ground floor space during good weather. the weighted sash windows simply slide down into a basement trench, a mechanism that the design team says is the first example of a retractable curved glass system anywhere in the world.



meanwhile, a curving staircase leads to a roof garden above the restaurant. conceived as a gift to the neighborhood, the space is accessed independently from the restaurant and remains open to the public. timber decking offers a welcoming external finish to the roof garden, while large planters embedded within the structure’s spiraling shape see the introduction of herbal planting, promoting biodiversity and creating a comfortable environment.



the building contains ‘vardo’, a new restaurant from the team behind caravan restaurants. internally, delicate structural arches seek to emphasize the airy spaciousness of the restaurant, while replicating the patterning found in the smooth, polished concrete edges of the external building form. terrazzo flooring extends throughout the space, while ash wood slats conceal small spotlights hidden in the ceiling. the interior fit-out of the restaurant was completed by box 9 design and rebecca richwhite, in partnership with laura harper-hinton, co-founder and creative director of caravan restaurants.



‘as a practice, we strive to create architecture that connects people to the places around them, and it has been a pleasure to work alongside cadogan and caravan in translating this vision into a new leisure destination in the heart of chelsea,’ says alan dempsey, director of nex–. ‘with the restaurant now opening its doors, and the public rooftop garden already full of life, we’re excited to see the how the building transforms the duke of york square, uniting the area’s rich heritage with a contemporary new dining space and unmissable public space overlooking the bustle of the king’s road.’



project info:


client: cadogan estates
architect: nex—
landscape architect: bradley hole schoenach (BHSLA)
project manager: capital and provincial
cost consultant: pre-tender: equals consulting, construction: TTPP
structural engineer: AKTII, london
MEP engineer: E&M tecnica, london
lighting: DHA design, london
planning consultant: gerald eve
principal designer: nex—
contractors: westgreen

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