The Serpentine Coffee House

Hyde Park, London, UK

Architecture, Interiors / Retail, Hospitality / Complete

The Serpentine Coffee House is a new architectural landmark in London’s Hyde Park. Located between the Serpentine Galleries, with views across the Serpentine Lake and out towards the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the new sculptural café is designed to form an integral part of a journey through The Royal Parks, welcoming visitors as they approach Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens. Providing an immersive architectural resting, refreshment and contemplation point, the café reflects and responds to the park’s Grade I listed landscape.

The Serpentine Coffee House is an open, semi-transparent glass pavilion, with mullions evoking the pagoda architecture traditionally seen in Japanese teahouses. This creates a lightness that helps the building to integrate seamlessly into the landscape, resulting in a complete, harmonious design that takes full advantage of its setting.

The building is defined by its undulating canopy, which appears to float independently above the glass structure below, echoing a stingray’s flight through water. As it curves at the front, it forms a welcoming ‘smile’ to greet visitors. The canopy has been hand-painted using specialist techniques to give an aged-brass finish and is intricately textured on the underside with snakeskin-inspired, coffer-like dimples. This glistening reptilian underbelly is revealed as you enter, creating an awe-inspiring spatial experience. The canopy cantilevers to create extensive open-air seating, with capacity for 60 people to sit under and around it, within the parkland.

The colour palette of the café interior is carefully curated for mindful consumption and to reflect the surrounding environment, blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space. Deep blue tiles behind the bespoke walnut-clad counter, an earthy terrazzo floor, green leather upholstered chairs and Perlino Rosato marble surfaces reflect hues relating to the Serpentine Lake and surrounding trees and flower beds.

The Serpentine Coffee House forms part of a wider commission for Mizzi Studio to transform ten prestigious sites across London’s Royal Parks, with individually crafted, free-standing architectural structures, in partnership with artisan Italian café operators, Colicci. In addition to the new Serpentine Coffee House, the practice has designed a family of nine curvaceous sculptural kiosks clad in steam-bent oak and tubular brass. Each of the structures serves to strengthen The Royal Parks’ brand personality and visual identity by communicating their key values of being beautiful, timeless, welcoming and remarkable.

We have been working with Jonathan and the Mizzi Studio team for 7 years and are immensely proud of what we have created in that time. Their creativity and ambition to pioneer such unique builds has pushed our brand forward and given us a truly unique selling point in a crowded market. The Serpentine Coffee House has set a new precedent for the experience of buying your coffee. – Rob Colicci, Director, Colicci

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Location: Hyde Park, London, UK

Status: Completed in July 2019

Size: Canopy 11 x 9 m; footprint 7.6 x 5.4 m

Key services: Design, visualisation, tender bid, planning, construction drawings, construction management

Client: Colicci

Collaborators: Arup (engineer), mouldCAM (roof engineer & manufacturer), OPUS Projects (fit out contractor)

Photography: Luke Hayes