Architecture firm BIG are known for constantly exploring the architectural field in refreshing and nuanced ways and moving into ‘a pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism.’ Led by 17 partners, each project is an undertaking to turn a space into a visually intriguing and inspiring environment. One project in particular caught our eye, namely, their redesign of Danish two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma into a one of a kind culinary countryside experience.
Set between two lakes within the freetown community of Christiana, what once used to be an ex-military warehouse where mines for the Royal Danish Navy were stored has been completely transformed into a stunning gastronomy journey that will define Noma’s unique approach to dining for years to come. As BIG asserts, ‘central to the design was the idea of dissolving the restaurant’s individual functions and organising them into a collection of separate yet connected buildings. A total of 11 spaces – each tailored to their specific needs and built of the finest materials best suited for their functions – are densely clustered around the restaurant’s heart, the kitchen.’ Preserving the site’s landmark status, the various spaces are connected seamlessly by glass-covered paths to allow both staff and guests to easily move between the zones and experience the weather and seasons throughout the year, a vital part of Noma’s culinary experience where the menu changes seasonally.
The kitchen’s central position changes the gastronomy game entirely. Revolving around the chefs, their setting in the heart of the restaurant means they have a complete overview whilst also allowing guests to immerse themselves in an experience which usually takes place behind-the-scenes. The dining room is where architectural brilliance is evoked with every detail – from the stacked timber planks, fantastic skylight and expansive windows which reveal an outdoor permagarden that blends interior and exterior beautifully.
The restaurant’s open floorplan allows guests to relate back to the site’s nature-oriented surroundings and heritage whilst feeling protected in a cosy and laid-back aesthetic. The interiors, designed by Studio David Thulstrup, feature oak tables and chairs, hand-woven cord seats and exposed wooden beams – capturing the surrounding environment and translating it within superbly.
Known for its reinterpretation of Nordic cuisine and local Scandinavian food, Noma has continued to impress critics and visitors around the world since its opening in 2003. Their Christiana location creates an entirely new and unique gastronomy experience unlike anything else within a historical structure and incredible setting.