On the south-eastern edge of Copenhagen, on one of the islets that once made up the Danish city’s wall, the BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group practice, internationally renowned for its extreme architecture, oversaw the design of a new NOMA, one of the world’s finest restaurants and a two Michelin-star establishment. This area lies between two lakes, on the edge of the Christiania community, on the site of a former military depot used in the past to store the Royal Danish Navy’s mines. A small green oasis frames what is intended to be a village with a kitchen garden, symbolizing the rebirth and philosophy of this new home for the landmark Danish restaurant. During the design phase, to overcome the expansion limitations imposed by local listing constraints, BIG drew inspiration from traditional Nordic “sæter” farms, which cluster together to form communities of similar dwellings that differ in small ways while still being of the same type. The idea was to divide up the classic restaurant’s individual functions and organize them into a village of autonomous yet interconnected buildings. The kitchen, the beating heart of the restaurant business, lies at the center of the complex, acting as the fulcrum for 11 surrounding structures. Each of these spaces was adapted to cater to specific needs, using the most suitable materials to express that particular function. The decision to place the chef in the central area allows guests to enjoy a 360° transparent catering service, with the kitchen visible from arrival at the dining hall, from the barbecue area and the wine selection area.
Showcased in its many material expressions, wood dominates the architectural composition of the complex, especially the 40-cover dining room and adjacent private dining room, where the beams used for the walls and roof evoke the natural atmosphere of planks piled up in a lumber yard. Ample windows running along the perimeter of these rooms and an outsized skylight allow guests to enjoy views over the surrounding landscape. Other highlights in the design include the barbecue, which in actual fact is a huge hut, and the main dining room, which resembles a huge fireplace made of terracotta tiles.
Externally, three of the restaurant’s buildings are used as greenhouses, both as winter gardens and vegetable gardens to grow the vegetables the chefs at NOMA cook. Every single building is connected via covered, glassed-in walkways that facilitate mobility within the structure, benefiting from a proximity to nature without concern for seasonal changes.
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Completion Date: 2018
Gross Floor Area: 1,290 m2
Architect: BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group
Partners in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær
Project Management: Ole Elkjær-Larsen, Tobias Hjortdal
Project Leader: Frederik Lyng
Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj, courtesy of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group
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