A pavilion with a “floating” roof, the silhouette of a cup of coffee, a stingray, a Japanese pagoda, and a snake emerging from a lake: these are just some of the many comparisons and metaphors used to describe the new project by the architectural and design firm Mizzi Studio.
In the summer of 2019, a new kiosk was built in Hyde Park to replace an existing building. In fact, in July, the new Serpentine Coffee House, the sculptural café designed by the Mizzi Studio, was completed in collaboration with Colicci, an artisan coffee brand and family business of Italian origin, which runs several cafés in London’s parks.
These evocative images clearly demonstrate that this small building overlooking the Serpentine is set to become a landmark in Hyde Park, one of London’s best-known parks.
Its golden canopy, a sculptural and sinuous element that does not go unnoticed, plays a key role in this: it is the hallmark of the project. This complex and fluid structure is the reason why the café is described with such evocative images.
The Mizzi Studio, responsible for the project, is an architectural and design firm based in London and Valletta, founded in 2011 by Jonathan Mizzi, a Maltese-British architect and designer. The project is part of a larger commission: in fact, the architectural firm has designed a total of nine kiosks. Nine independent buildings designed for different contexts. In the autumn, another facility will be opened in Hyde Park and two more in St James’s Park. This initiative is coordinated by The Royal Parks, a UK charity set up in 2017 that runs London’s eight Royal Parks and other gardens and green areas in the city.
The new Serpentine Coffee House harmoniously blends into Hyde Park, respecting the protected area of the park without altering its natural beauty. This small building welcomes visitors approaching the park from Kensington Gardens and is located between the Serpentine Galleries, with views across the Serpentine Lake and out towards the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.
In short, the semi-transparent glass pavilion with an undulating roof, designed by the architects of the Mizzi Studio, has a sinuous shape, which seems to recreate the movement of the lake. The lower part of the canopy, the one visible to customers at the café, has a series of recessed elements and regular shapes with a snakeskin-inspired motif. This complex fluid shape, tapered at the edges, is the result of an accurate design process that has made it possible to reduce the support points of the structure to the bare minimum. The outcome is impressive: the canopy seems to float in the air independently above the glass pavilion below.
The aged brass finish of the canopy was obtained using specialist techniques, whereas for the interior of the café the architects chose colours that reflect those of the surrounding environment, thus further blurring the boundaries between inside and outside.
Architect: Mizzi Studio
Location: Hyde Park, London, UK
Status: Completed in July 2019
Size: Canopy 11 x 9 m; footprint 7.6 x 5.4 m
Key services: Design, visualisation, tender bid, planning, construction drawings, construction management
Collaborators: Arup (engineer), mouldCAM (roof engineer & manufacturer), OPUS Projects (fit out contractor)
Photography: Luke Hayes
Images courtesy of Mizzi Studio photos © Luke Hayes