|Project Name||Duddell’s||Posted in||Design, Interior Design||Location||
9a St Thomas St
|Telephone||+44 20 3957 9932||Architecture Practice||Michaelis Boyd||Completed||2017|
Housed in the historic, Grade II-listed St Thomas Church in London Bridge not far from The Shard, Duddell’s new London outpost, the first outside the original, two Michelin star, award-winning Hong Kong venue, is an authentic Cantonese restaurant that combines a culinary experience of extraordinary refinement with a regular rotation of eclectically curated contemporary artwork. The building, one of the finest examples of Queen Anne architecture in London, has been masterfully renovated by London-based architectural practice Michaelis Boyd as a celebration of both its austere, baroque heritage and the whimsical sensibility of traditional 1960’s Hong Kong tea restaurants.
Taking advantage of the eight-metre high church space, the architects have incorporated a mezzanine level that wraps around two sides of the restaurant and serves as additional dining space. Patrons dining on this level can enjoy sweeping views of the interiors courtesy of a clear glass balustrade, whilst the open dim sum kitchen underneath, headed up by Chef Daren Liew, allows those sitting on the ground floor to catch glimpses of the chefs at work.
Meanwhile, the tall, four-metre clerestory windows, a key feature of St Thomas’ architectural character which have been restored to their original grandeur, provide ample daylight as well as establish, along with imposing chandeliers of minimal elegance hanging from the original ceiling, an immersive ambience of humbling serenity. Also immaculately restored, the original dark timber church altar alludes to the building’s heritage while becoming an austere focal point of restrained ornamentation. Fittingly, the same dark oak wood has been used for the panelling that lines the perimeter of the restaurant below the windows, enveloping the restaurant in age-old charm.
The solemnity of the church’s restored building fabric is playfully juxtaposed with an injection of colours and patterns that harks back to the Hong Kong tea restaurants of the 1960s. Most notable of these interventions are the monolithic central structure clad in green tiles, the boldly coloured, geometric rubber flooring, and the deep blue leather banquette, complemented by a mixture of black rattan and timber chairs, colourful laminate tabletops and poufs in mohair velvet.
Accommodating the open dim sum kitchen and cocktail bar, the free standing island features a pink terrazzo counter and brass shelving that subtly complement the green tiling, as well as bespoke light fittings made from perforated overlapping satin brass sheets that emit a mellow glow. While the central island allows the perimeter oak panelling to remain unobstructed, the geometric rubber flooring protects the church’s original parquet, small parts of which have been left exposed in protected areas.
Overall, Michaelis Boyd’s design achieves a fine balance between the building’s solemn heritage and Duddell’s mission of fostering a culture of creativity, architecturally reflected in a sophisticated salon of modern elegance where art lovers and food lovers alike can gather to meet, eat, drink and socialize.