Bars & Leisure Focus: Project - Kew Gardens Family Kitchen

Designed By Architects HOK with front of house interiors by Mizzi Studio and Lumsden Design, the Family Kitchen & Shop at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is an environmentally driven, education-led food space.

Words by Toby Maxwell

The restaurant has been designed as a highly sustainable timber building that aligns with the sustainability ethos of Kew Gardens, and with interiors intended to present a colourful, interactive space that teaches families all about the origins of their food.

Building on the success of the recently opened Children’s Garden, the family kitchen project aims to educate children in the value of healthy eating, good food preparation, the origins of ingredients and natural produce.

Providing 250 covers, the 1,150 sq m sustainable facility has been conceived out of a desire by Kew Gardens to enhance the experience of visiting children and their families. The architecture of the building tells the story of sustainable, flexible and timeless design. Overarching structural timber elements provide the rhythm of the design, reflecting the common language of various buildings and landscapes within Kew Garden

An important driver for the project team and client alike was the promotion of sustainable construction techniques and materials. As such the restaurant and retail spaces have been designed with exposed timber structural elements (glulam beams, CLT walls and CLT soffit), exposed mechanical and electrical services, triple-glazed curtain wall facade, finishes made from recycled materials and an array of photovoltaic panels on the roof.

In line with Kew’s commitment to become ‘climate positive’ by 2030, the building services strategy has been developed to reduce the energy consumption of the building throughout its lifespan. Photovoltaic panels on the roof and a heat recovery system, amongst other measures, contribute to the efficient ongoing operation and maintenance of the building. The Family Kitchen & Shop building is on target to achieve BREEAM Excellent certification and boasts an embodied carbon reduction of more than 50% against industry benchmarks.

The restaurant colour scheme draws from the natural hues and tones of each season. Image Credit: ANDREW MEREDITH
The restaurant colour scheme draws from the natural hues and tones of each season. Image Credit: ANDREW MEREDITH

Stuart Ward, Associate at HOK, said: ‘We have always seen the Family Kitchen & Shop as an extension of the Children’s Garden and as such, transparency, materiality and form were the key drivers for the building design. The elegant timber frame accommodates a flexible front of house space which can take on multiple layouts and is inherently future proof. The regular rhythm of the fully glazed main facade is a nod to the existing architecture elsewhere in the Gardens and the exposed timber offers a visual and tactile link to the natural world.

‘Sustainability is at the forefront of the client’s approach to its global research, and it was important this exciting new facility worked hard to reflect this ethos. We have utilised raw, tactile and robust materials with exposed detailing to create a space that is honest in its approach while promoting responsible and sustainable design and construction techniques. Apart from being renewable, one of timber’s most unique features is the fact that it’s a carbon negative option given the material both absorbs atmospheric carbon and creates considerably lower volumes of emissions during the manufacturing process.’

Mizzi Studio’s front of house interiors have been designed to create a magical world of gardens, forests and woodlands where human beings appear to have been shrunk to the size of small creatures living within nature. This vibrant, stimulating world aims to promote the global research undertaken by RBG scientists, and the importance of diet, in an interactive, theatrical and learning-based setting.

The journey begins with a radiating LED sun wall, soft pendant cloud lights, and Gaudi-inspired wave seats of blue mosaic that represent the parting seas, introducing visitors to the fundamental elements of nature involved in food growth. Next, families are led to a laboratory-inspired botanical hand washing station, highlighting the importance of hygiene as well as the antibacterial properties of plants like lavender and rosemary.

The restaurant and retail spaces have been designed with exposed timber elements. Image Credit: ANDREW MEREDITH
The restaurant and retail spaces have been designed with exposed timber elements. Image Credit: ANDREW MEREDITH

A tiled pizza oven, draped with bright red infinity mirror periscopes that showcase fruit and vegetables, sits in the centre of the Family Kitchen, where children will learn about how food is made, where ingredients come from and how to recognise and name the different foods that make up their meals. A pizza topping station allows children to select their own ingredients. Finally, families will enter the large, deep magenta dining zone furnished with an oversized Enset tree and giant apple seat, surrounded with mirrors, illuminated foliage and colourful seating.

The journey’s zoning approach also follows the theme of the earth’s four seasons, with applicable colour stories and textures characterising the different sections and seating throughout the restaurant. Elsewhere, restaurant colours draw from the natural hues and tones of each season, functioning both as wayfinding and playful decor.

Jonathan Mizzi, director at Mizzi Studio, said: ‘Our goal has been to design a space that celebrates nature and learning, helping to make children and parents excited about food growth, hygiene and preparation. Through colour, texture and wild nature-inspired form, we have created a space that brings families closer to the roles of the elements in nature, to seasonality and the overall journey from plant to plate.” | |

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