- Main Contractor:OWN Property & Development
- M&E Engineer:OWN Property & Development
- Structural Engineer:Michael Alexander Consulting Engineers
- Lighting Engineer:HALO
- Country:United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. OPSO is an all-day restaurant situated on the corner of Paddington Street and Nottingham Place in the London neighbourhood of Marylebone.
The brief was to create a design that would reflect the overall philosophy of the restaurant: Greek inspired, London made. For this concept to come across successfully the design, the menu and the branding had to come together coherently in one identity. We worked closely with the whole team to ensure that the design of the space is seen as a natural physical extension of the OPSO concept.
By stripping back the façade and gutting the 2000 square feet of existing space, the true fabric of the building was revealed. The main ground floor space is long and narrow and divided into 2 zones by a 20cm difference in the floor level. The focal architectural element of the design is a central spine that connects the two zones by running the length of the space and incorporating the level change within its use. Beginning in the first zone and at the main entrance, the spine is a 1m 10cm high coffee bar that casually welcomes diners and take away clients. Moving into the second zone the surface continues at the same height and becomes a 90cm high table top for informal, communal dining.
Using the length of the space in this way also maximizes the flow of natural light from the south facing windows, but for the light to penetrate each corner of the space it was important to keep the layout open. As well as the central spine another key design element is the open storage system that allows waiters to work around diners efficiently and naturally. The system is a framework that works around the tables, extending throughout the ground and lower ground floors and we use it to organise the space into zones, eliminating the need for partitions that would restrict light and circulation.
We worked in close collaboration with the consultant chefs Georgianna Hiliadaki and Nikos Roussos, to ensure that this framework would become a practical element in the service of the restaurant. Together we identified zones and used the framework to locate key service elements that are conventionally hidden from view in separate spaces. The slender steel framework houses waiter’s stations, wine fridges and food storage cabinets. It is painted a very dark blue and supports wood shelves on which are stored tableware and glassware, cutlery pots, bottles of oil and jars of preserves. These are interspersed with a variety of lush plants in custom made terracotta planters.
The interior combines natural materials found in old Athenian eateries, such as the Kavala marble wall cladding and table tops, and the hand-laid Terrazzo flooring, as well as updated interpretations of traditional design elements such as oak panelling, leather upholstery and various brass accents that catch the light. Warm, polished plaster walls are interrupted by a triptych of ceramic tiled murals by the artist Joanna Burtenshaw, that illustrate the restaurants focus on social dining and the sourcing of quality ingredients from England and Greece.
Furniture is a careful combination of custom design and classic and contemporary sourced pieces. Wooden stools by London based furniture company Another Country provide informal seating at the communal table and bar upstairs; vintage Mogensen dining chairs are paired with marble topped taverna tables custom designed by k-studio; and soft leather seating hugs the tables in the two dining booths downstairs. Subtle up-lighting illuminates the pale blue painted ceiling and is concealed in a neat brass rail running the length of the central spine. Between the frames hang handmade, glazed terracotta ‘Gooseberry’ pendants by Hand & Eye Studio.