Bjarke Ingels Designs an Elegant, Restrained New Noma

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The world's best restaurant gets Bjarked and, for once, his term "hedonistic sustainability" fits.

Bjarke Ingels has designed a restrained, elegant and beautiful restaurant in Copenhagen for Noma, and Peter Kreiner, Chief Noma's Executive Officer describes it:

I believe that what Bjarke Ingels and the BIG team came up with is the ideal non-pretentious solution that we will enjoy calling our home for years to come. To say that we are thrilled with the end result would be an understatement.
noma dining room with wood ceiling

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The fact that it is such a non-pretentious solution is the most remarkable thing about it. I have long been a critic of the architect I call Bjarke! because everything he does is a reinvention of the architectural wheel, a giant LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO!

walk up to noma

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This building is subdued, subtle. Bjarke describes it in a press release:

Our collaboration with noma Chef and co-owner René Redzepi, and the noma team, has been brewing ever since I had my first dinner there fourteen years ago. Similar to our own idea of hedonistic sustainability—where the more sustainable city is also the most enjoyable city to live in—noma has pioneered a cuisine built upon shared values for creativity and sustainability.
noma dining with kitchen behind

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The new noma dissolves the traditional idea of a restaurant into its constituent parts and reassembles them in a way that puts the chefs at the heart of it all. Every part of the restaurant experience—the arrival, the lounge, the barbeque, the wine selection and the private company—is all clustered around the chefs.
kitchen with glass roof which is going to leak for sure

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From their central position, they have a perfect overview to every corner of the restaurant while allowing every single guest to follow what would traditionally happen behind-the-scenes. Each ‘building within the building’ is connected by glass-covered paths that allow chefs and guests to follow the changes in weather, daylight and seasons—making the natural environment an integral part of the culinary experience.
bigger dining room

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It's all brick and wood and warm, and a mix of Nordic materials and traditional building techniques:

...the barbecue is a giant walk-in hut and the lounge looks and feels like a giant, cozy fireplace made entirely of brick inside and out. In-between the individual buildings are spaces enclosed with glass, allowing guests and the noma team to roam in constant connection with nature and the changing seasons.
noma ktichen

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The kitchen is in the middle, "designed like a panopticon with an oversized hood hovering over the chefs." Back when I was an architect I designed a few restaurants and have been in many commercial kitchens and I have never actually seen a hood like that, or a kitchen like that, this is all wooden and wild. "From here, the chefs can oversee the entire kitchen and guest areas, including the dining room and adjacent private dining room."

aerial view

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There's historic restoration too, a mix of old and new.

The historic 100 m long single-story warehouse completes the circle of buildings surrounding the kitchen. BIG preserved the raw shell of the warehouse’s concrete and inserted a massive wooden shelf for storage and display. All of the back-of-house functions are located here, including the prep kitchen, fermentation labs, fish tanks, terrarium, ant farm and break-out areas for staff.

I have visited quite a few buildings by Bjarke! They are all remarkable but often problematic, architectural handstands. This is so restrained. I may have to drop my exclamation mark.

corridor in noma

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