Gordon Young of Gordon Young Architects( former director of Say Architects ) was briefed to act as project architect to Hutong, a 130 cover fine dining restaurant on level 33 of The Shard, working in collaboration with David Yeo of Aqua Restaurant Group on the deisgn of the restaurant.
The brief was to draw inspiration from the much loved restaurant of the same name in Hong Kong and to open up Eastern experience to the West. Comprising two bar areas, two restaurants areas, circulation spaces, private dining areas and a triple height atrium space, the solution required an element of theatre and intimacy.
The concept of Hutong hinges on the narrow alleyways or ‘hutongs’ of Beijing, the fast-disappearing lanes which criss-crossed the city. The challenge was to bring an ancient aesthetic to London’s most contemporary iconic building.
Moveable, hand-carved, dark wood lattice screens and panelling separate the two wings of the restaurant, bar and private dining areas, allowing for privacy and a continuous sight line across the space. The area of mirrored ceiling extends visual experience, reflecting the red wall made of traditional Chinese lanterns. Guests can more fully absorb the exterior view as clever lighting diminishes reflections to windows.
The slightly subdued solution is a careful balancing of integrities, working with a simple palette (concrete, stone, render and dark yew woods). A wall of tiled tea bricks (compressed dried Chinese tea) and vintage 1940s tea canisters celebrate the link between China and London with its old tea warehouses. There are elements of surprise too, such as freestanding urinals set against expansive windows overlooking London Bridge train tracks.
Hutong completed on time and within budget. It is successful in creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the fast-disappearing Beijing streets where families used to dine together.
A subtly layered and open approach achieves a sense of place with elegance and subdued grandeur.
The solution is successful in bringing the East to the West and strikes a delicate balance between cultures and aesthetics.
1. Wall Render – Tadelakt
2. Wall tiles – Solus Ceramics – Stonbrik Range
3. Timber flooring – Element 7 – Nero Oak
4. Floor tiles – Solus Ceramics – Pizzo range