Mizzi Studio to design new nature inspired, family restaurant within The Royal Botanic Gardens

Last Updated on Friday, 9 July, 2021 at 10:43 am by Andre Camilleri

Mizzi Studio unveils their nature inspired designs for a new eating, learning and leisure space within The Royal Botanic Gardens: Kew, which houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world.

Founded in 1840 and located in southwest London, Kew Gardens is a cultural icon, standing as a beloved ambassador for nature, education, and wellbeing. The gardens offer a space for leisure defined by greenery, air, colour, and joy.

Mizzi Studio has been selected to design a new family kitchen for the gardens, sited directly beside their Children’s Garden – a verdant, natural setting that allows children to explore and play surrounded by the presence of earth, air, sun, and water. The team received overwhelmingly positive scores and feedback following the tender process, which comprised entries from international architecture firms such as HOK. The tender panel was struck by Mizzi Studio’s holistic, nature driven approach to the project brief.

The design offers food in a theatrical, nature-led, technology-driven setting. Comprising food preparation stations, dining areas and retail, the kitchen marries fantasy and nature with science, promoting education, wonder, organic dominance, food culture, and interactivity. Mizzi Studio has created a new space for families in London where natural oasis meets children’s laboratory.

A zoning approach within the restaurant follows the theme of the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter, with applicable colour stories, material texture and visual cues permeating into the different sections and seating throughout the kitchen. Colours draw from the natural hues and tones of each season, functioning as both implicit wayfinding and playful décor. Diversity in material is used to reinforce the concept of enjoying nature through the seasons, with surfaces ranging from warm timbers to smooth glass and resins.

“Where does food come from? How do plants help us grow? What do plants need to grow? Much like the educational element in the nearby Children’s Garden, which revolves around learning through play and authentic experiences, we wanted the new Family Kitchen at Kew to be able to teach children lessons about nature and food through activity,” Director Jonathan Mizzi explains. “The kitchen is sectioned into distinct dining, serving, learning, and washing zones, but it reads as one continuous, vibrant and fantastical experience. We really wanted to make children excited about food, food hygiene and food preparation – we did this through colour, texture and wild, nature-inspired form.”

In keeping with Mizzi Studio’s signature style, biophilic and biomorphic design elements proliferate throughout the scheme. Specifically, the key seating arrangements are influenced by organic elements living in the natural world, including vegetables, fungi, and vibrant plant life. Colour is another protagonist in the Family Kitchen at Kew. Grass greens, sunflower yellows, royal blues, and cherry reds occupy the space in bold swathes, whilst nuanced mid-tones flourish strategically across the kitchen to support chromatic impact. Colour is reinforced by texture. The breadth of materials included within the scheme is wide and the impact of their tactile properties strong: from glass, to timber, to polished surfaces, each material has been chosen in accordance with a specific sensorial impact in mind.

With the capacity to host up to 150 diners, the Family Kitchen at Kew has been designed to support a variety in party size numbers, age, and physical ability. The entire space has been divided into zones that flow in and out of each other, but that each provide distinct seating arrangements catering for different groups. Larger seating plans exist for extended families and big groups, whilst more intimate set ups are available for parents or child-minders dining alone with their children.

Designed to champion family friendliness, different spaces within the kitchen cater for children, adults, and the elderly collectively. Serveries, counter tops, wash-hand basins and seating equally accommodate adults, children, prams, and wheelchairs with ease. Throughout the kitchen, accessibility has been designed as default not exception, becoming a feature of inclusion and an extension of the spirit of Kew Gardens: the ultimate family destination that transcends age.

“It’s not every day that you get to design for your dream client – an institution that has brought so much value to the entire world. We are honoured to be working with Kew. We’ve designed a space that celebrates nature and learning. It’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets nature-led laboratory. It’s a place for families, where children can learn about our ecosystem – how the sun works, how plants work, and how food is grown. We want children to meaningfully engage with our planet so that they can grow up to live environmentally and socially responsible lives. We hope this kitchen can play a part in achieving that.” Jonathan Mizzi, Director Mizzi Studio

This month it has also been announced that Mizzi Studio is one of 3 international studios to be selected, out of 97 applicants in the South Kensington Green Trail design competition which forms part of the London Festival of Architecture’s year-round of public realm interventions.

This project has been commissioned by the Exhibition Road Cultural Group as part of a series of three installations in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture, V&A, Goethe-Institut London, and Science Museum and supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

The open call invited design proposals that can demonstrate how plants, greenery and biodiversity can be creatively embedded into Exhibition Road’s public realm, reclaiming space for nature amidst the bustle of the capital.

The South Ken Outdoor Trail project is being delivered by Discover South Kensington in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture, and is supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and the Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Founded in 2011 by Maltese-British architect and designer, Jonathan Mizzi, Mizzi Studio is an award-winning architecture and design practice with studios in London and Malta. Working across a diverse range of disciplines, scales, and sectors, the studio seeks out projects that have a positive social and cultural impact.

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