© NEX Architecture
© NEX Architecture
Construction in progress 02
© AKT II - Michael Lau
Construction in progress
© AKT II - Michael Lau

Cadogan Café

The conversion of Chelsea’s Duke of York Square into a fashionable mix of retail units, apartments and restaurants has prompted a huge influx of visitors to the area. The existing central café building, with its single till-point and small capacity, is set to be replaced by a larger model; we were part of the competition-winning design team chosen to deliver this.

The Patisserie Valerie café installed as part of the original scheme comprised a lightweight steel frame, also designed by AKT II. The architect’s aspiration was for a ‘pavilion style’ building, so we left the structural frame exposed in places, visible through large areas of glazing. A simple raft foundation was sufficient for supporting the columns in the centre of the structure and around its perimeter.

The replacement structure, designed in collaboration with NEX Architecture, incorporates a basement set over a raft foundation slab with contiguous pile walls which houses kitchen and ‘back of house’ amenities. We considered a number of options for waterproofing the sub-ground concrete, with the preferred option being a robust drained cavity system with an internal textured membrane which channels water to a connected drainage system.

A limiting factor in the design was a Grade I-listed wall which curves to within 3 m of the café’s superstructure, and which the building uses to inform its rounded shape. We had no access to structural details for the wall, so assumed minimal foundations and poor stability, and recommended monitoring.

The requirement for curved walls led us to design a timber stressed external skin comprising two layers of flexible ply separated by a grid of timber ribs. The architectural desire was for an exposed timber aesthetic to the soffit of the roof slab, so our solution comprised a system of timber beams spanning between the load-bearing walls, with a thin layer of in-situ reinforced concrete poured over.

Café installed amongst listed buildings as part of the regeneration of Duke of York Square

London, UK
Cadogan Estates
NEX Architecture
£ 2 million

  • 2017 New London Award - Hotels & Hospitality
  • 2016 AJ Architecture Tomorrow Awards - Commendation