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BUILDING PROJECTS


SERPENTINE COFFEE HOUSE HYDE PARK, LONDON


A royal smile


A new coffee house has been completed in Hyde Park, which sports a striking ‘biomorphic’ design in the shape of a golden stingray. Its architect spoke to Jack Wooler on the inspirations behind the project


pproaching the bridge across the Serpentine, the famous man-made lake in London’s Hyde Park, visitors heading north are drawn into an opening between the trees. Sitting in this opening, a biomorphic shape arises in the distance, seemingly from the lake itself, its undulating brass-coloured roof capping a porous glass facade which displays the inviting activities of a small coffee house inside. Its unconventional shape appears as


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though “a serpentine creature has jumped out of the lake, and evolved into a smiling stingray in flight, welcoming you to Hyde Park,” says designer Jonathan Mizzi, founder of Mizzi Studio.


The distinctive Serpentine Coffee House – commissioned by client Colicci (an artisan coffee chain) – is defined by its canopy, which seems to float independently above the glass structure below, “echoing a stingray’s flight though water.” This highly individualistic design is at home among the art-rich surroundings of the park, providing visitors to this part of London with a new place to stop, relax, and enjoy the views around – housed inside a permeable, nature- inspired construction.


The coffee house is located just beside the Serpentine itself, which is in the centre of the park, and formed to look like a soft, naturally formed body of water. This emulation of nature which the coffee house backs onto was in fact a direct design inspiration for the ‘creature,’ alongside the practice’s ethos to create buildings “inspired by the natural world and natural processes.”


On the approach


When approaching this extension to the lake, there is a gradual “upgrading of earth,” says Mizzi, as visitors walk inwards, going from the tarmac of the road, to the tar and chip of the paving area, and then onto the coffee house’s grounds, which are based with an earthy and sandy flexible resin-bonded gravel, “immediately letting you know that you’re within a demarcated site,” explains the architect.


Passing through these grounds, visitors can then enter inside the envelope from three sides of the coffee house, which is surrounded with fully openable glazing to its front, left and right. Inside there is a fairly small front of house, around 30 m2


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which is flooded with natural daylight during favourable weather.


Users can then step upon the earthy terrazzo flooring of the coffee house’s interior, to be met with a simple and efficient solid walnut counter, offering items such as gelato, ice cream, coffees and teas – the counter itself offering visual interest in its triangular reed texture. The walls behind the counter are covered in deep blue tiles, intended to “blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space,” alongside green leather upholstered chairs and marble surfaces which reflect the hue of the lake and the surrounding trees and flower beds.


Besides the chairs located in front of the


counter, looking around through the glass envelope is further seating – which in fair weather can host over 60 people, the cantilevered canopy providing some shade


ADF NOVEMBER 2019 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


Its unconventional shape appears as though “a serpentine creature has jumped out of the lake, and evolved into a smiling stingray in flight”


SMILE OF A STINGRAY The cafe’s undulating brass-coloured roof has been designed to resemble a stingray with an upwardly curving canopy to produce a ‘smile’ All images © Luke Hayes


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