London's hottest restaurant opening of 2015: the German Gymnasium by Conran and D&D

by Kim Megson | 11 Nov 2015

Global restaurateurs D&D London have transformed London's historic German Gymnasium into one of the city's hottest new dining destinations, offering a cultural cocktail of cafes, eateries and bars.

The German Gymnasium, located in King’s Cross, will open to the public tomorrow (12 November) in a grand setting. Built in 1865 for the German Gymnastics Society, the Grade II listed building was the first purpose-built gym in England and was a host venue at the 1866 National Olympic Games.

Almost 150 years on, architecture and design studio Conran and Partners were tasked by D&D with converting the space into a “dining and drinking destination for foodies and international commuters alike”.

The two companies have strong connections, since D&D was established to acquire and run the former Conran Restaurants chain.

Conran have created a 447-cover complex evoking the spirit of the original building while offering a contemporary take on the grand cafes and brasseries of Central Europe.

In an exclusive interview with CLAD, Conran and Partners' project director, Tina Norden, revealed that the design was partly inspired by fashion designer Alexander McQueen, whose ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition of work at London Victoria and Albert Museum broke attendance records earlier this year.

“We looked at the raw grandeur of German Gymnasium and wanted to create interiors that were glamorous and contemporary, but would also celebrate beauty found in unexpected places, in the same way as McQueen’s work did,” said Norden.

Conran and Partners’ additions to the interior include two new grand black-steel staircases; a mezzanine floor accommodating a cocktail bar and semi-private dining room; a balcony overlooking the central dining space; and a main kitchen completely rendered in black.

“The building is listed, so there was a limit to how much we could, or wanted, to do with the architecture of the space itself,” said Norden. “However, we wanted to celebrate the stunning heritage features, such as the lofty, triple-height ceiling space with its magnificent timber roof and iron girders. These create a kind of industrial vibe that influenced our choice of materials, colours and textures, including distressed leather, black steel and huge brass mirrors.”

Gold mesh screens inspired by Victorian fencing masks pay tribute to the gymnasium Olympic history, while original fixtures – such as climbing hooks in the ceiling – have been retained.

Des Gunewardena, chair and CEO of D&D London, said the new dining destination would become an integral part of a resurgent King's Cross – which is also due to feature a Thomas Heatherwick-designed mixed-use complex.

“We've watched and admired King’s Cross coming to life in recent years and are so excited to finally becoming part of it," added Gunewardena.

“When I first saw the German Gymnasium building stripped out, revealing the interior with its 57ft (17m) floor-to-ceiling heights, I had a spine-tingling feeling. We love this building and its history. It deserves an exciting life in the 21st century and we are going to do our best to give it that.”

In a nod to the site’s German heritage, executive chef Bjoern Wassmuth has created a wide-ranging menu containing classic German and Mittel-European dishes. Guests will also be able to enjoy the German tradition of Kaffee and Kuchen at 4pm every day by tucking into traditional cakes and pastries such as apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

The site's dedicated drinking venue is called the Meister Bar, which will play German music until 1am. A specially-designed cocktail menu has been created for the bar, including a multi-sensory concept called Le Whaf – a special carafe that evaporates cocktails into low-calorie, inhalable clouds.

D&D London owns and operates over 30 restaurants around the world, including several in the UK and Europe. The company acquired the German Gymnasium site in January 2014.

Global restaurateurs D&D London have transformed London's historic German Gymnasium into one of the city's hottest new dining destinations, offering a cultural cocktail of cafes, eateries and bars. The German Gymnasium, located in King’s Cross, will open to the public tomorrow (12 November) in a grand setting. Built in 1865 for the German Gymnastics Society, the Grade II listed building was the first purpose-built gym in England and was a
CLD,RST,PRO,ARC,DES,DEV,INV
The Grade II listed building was a host for the 1866 Olympic Games / D&D London
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7558     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7558     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: SPARCSTUDIO
Sparcstudio offers a bespoke and comprehensive design service with real attention to detail. Logical and inspiring space planning forms the bedrock of all Sparcstudio projects.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Wellness: Room with a view
"Sam was such a champion for the team, and my goal is simply to carry that same torch"

As Blackberry Mountain resort opens in Tennessee, we find out why the project is a deeply personal one for owner Mary Celeste Beall

The guest rooms provide views across the quarry
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

Fisketorvet Copenhagen Mall
"Most clients are very focused on how buildings are used and experienced as the primary design driver"

The MD of Schmidt Hammer Lassen and the CEO of PerkinsWill tell us why their merger will help create smarter buildings driven by human behaviour

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The new building forms the backbone of the masterplan developed by DCA in 1999
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

The book was published in 2019 by RIBA Publishing
Elina Grigoriou
"Temperature, noise level and colour affect our stress levels. As designers we should be asking ourselves, how do these things match up?"

The London-based interior designer and wellness expert hopes her new book will help readers understand how to design with wellbeing in mind

features
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

The guestroom interiors are by Foster + Partners
Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

The Tree Canopy Walk has platforms designed to ‘lure’ people into the woods
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

cladkit product news
1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium celebrates Southampton FC's history
Rainbow Design worked closely with KSS Architects to ensure the furniture matched the design vision
Lauren Heath-Jones
KSS Architects has partnered with Rainbow Design, a London-based furniture supplier, to create the 1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium, ...
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Barr + Wray to launch space saving hammam concept
Light shines through a striking central chandelier to create a feeling of movement
Katie Barnes
Smaller footprint. Maximum theatre. Those are the two main features of a new hammam concept being developed by wet spa ...
cladkit product news
Tom Dixon collaborates with Prolicht to launch CODE lighting range
The product has three LED light sources: Dot, Dash and Grid
Megan Whitby
British designer, Tom Dixon, and Austrian architectural lighting specialists, Prolicht, have collaborated to unveil a new lighting range. Called CODE, ...
Matteo Thun grows Allaperto collection with new suspended outdoor armchair
Megan Whitby
Allaperto, the lounge collection spawned by the partnership between design studios, Matteo Thun, Ethimo and Antonio Rodriguez, has been expanded ...
Ritz Carlton co-founder joins Frontline Summit 2020 as keynote speaker
Hospitality veteran and Ritz Carlton co-founder, Horst Schulze, who brings more than 65 years’ experience to the table, has been announced as a keynote
Megan Whitby
Frontline work has never been more important and frontline workers are the largest class of workers on the planet, as ...
cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates