Forming the final element in the redevelopment of Duke of York Square, Nex—‘s new restaurant building for Cadogan offers both visitors and locals an exciting new leisure destination in the heart of Chelsea in London. Housed within the space is Vardo – a stylish new restaurant space for Caravan Restaurants – and the building also incorporates a striking rooftop garden, enhancing the public realm in the midst of the bustling King’s Road.
The restaurant’s ambitiously sculptural form is defined by a ribbon-like, spiraling concrete wall. In a graceful addition to the historic area, this creates a thoughtful continuation of the adjacent Grade 2 listed wall of the Duke of York Headquarters, while giving the restaurant an unmistakably contemporary character. Set within the wall, large openings provide access to the main restaurant space, drawing upon a classically-informed colonnade in their arrangement.
The dynamic curves of the large plate glass windows within the colonnade are housed within bespoke steel frames to prevent the need for horizonal mullions and continue the seamless simplicity of the design. In line with this, these glass panels are also completely retractable, opening up the ground floor space during fine weather and allowing the restaurant to spill onto the surrounding Duke of York Square.
Following around 2,500 hours of research and development with manufacturers and experts across Europe, the restaurant is the first example of a retractable curved glass system in the world – a pioneering technology that celebrates a mechanism that is as strikingly simple as a weighted sash window, sliding down into a basement trench.
Dedicated to sustainability, this is one of the greenest restaurant buildings in London and makes use of a semi-passive system to maximise performance and minimise energy use, with the retractable glazing also enabling the public spaces to be naturally ventilated throughout the year.
Above the restaurant, a tranquil roof garden is open freely to the public. Featuring generous herbal planting embedded within the spiralling shape of the building, the garden creates a peaceful comfortable environment for people to relax, eat their lunch or simply spend time among the canopies of surrounding trees. Raised up from the bustle of the busy square and road below, this in turn offers the perfect opportunity to forge new connections with the historical surroundings.
Showcasing the architects’ love for detail, the building’s airy interior spaces see the seamless continuation of the elegant material palette, with terrazzo flooring and structural arches mirroring the patterning found in the smooth, polished concrete reveals of the window openings.
These are complemented by the intricate craftsmanship of the ceiling, where wooden slats are carefully arranged to celebrate the building’s spiral form, and add a distinct sense of movement. The large glass windows flood the restaurant with natural light, while small spotlights embedded between the ceiling slats – alongside delicate fabric choices – enhance the comfortable, warm glow within the open-plan space, and contrast with the tougher concrete and steel surfaces elsewhere.
Design, info and images © Nex—