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50 & 20 Years Ago

40 Years Ago: A restaurant in Hyde Park

Taken from Building with Steel, 1966

A new modern restaurant has been built in Hyde Park on the banks of the Serpentine. It opened in July last year (1965) in The Dell, one of the prettiest parts of the park.

Built at a cost of £120,000, it is both striking and original in design. It is octagonal, a shape employed to avoid the need for curved surfaces, and the use of a regular segmental layout has produced a continuous window line. The result is a building with the advantages of a circular form, but achieved with the use of straight lines; it is 100 ft. across.

The structural design comprises two main elements, (1) an octagonal core supported on piles and (2) an umbrella of steel beams cantilevering from this core to the edge of the roof and carried at the window line by extremely slender tubular steel columns. Roof finish, insulation and the ceiling are carried on or suspended from the steelwork and the glass of the window fills the whole space between the columns. The inverse-arch form of each segment has made possible the use of a light structure: the curved shape is nearly that of the natural ‘sag’ of a roof slung between the main beam lines.

At the centre, the walls are taken up to carry and enclose an upper floor providing tank space and an office and terminating in a dome constructed of light timber trusses covered with copper roofing.

Both the enclosed and the outdoor terrace areas are covered by the large umbrella-like roof, the under-surface of which consists of shaped fibrous plaster panels separated from each other by a gap which creates a bold ceiling panel and provides a slot through which the curved window head glass is taken out of sight. This glass stretches from column to column on a staggered plan around the entire building.

The restaurant includes a cafeteria, an automat and a licensed buffet; it will seat 114 people inside and a further 136 outside on the terrace.

The architect was Patrick Gwynne and the Consulting Engineers were Jenkins and Potter.

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