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High-Rise Hutong

Layout and design at this Chinese restaurant in London ensures spectacular views and theatrical flair

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There’s not a bad seat in the house at Hutong, a contemporary northern Chinese eatery poised atop the 33rd floor of The Shard skyscraper in London. It’s the second and same-named iteration of the popular Hong Kong nosh spot from Aqua Restaurant Group’s David Yeo.

Just like Yeo’s original Hutong, whose name refers to the narrow alleyways between houses in old Beijing, his London outpost bears an equally elaborate aesthetic: sweeping floor-to-ceiling city views, grand interior finishes such as stone and hand-carved wood, traditional Chinese lanterns and accents, plus a dramatic lighting scheme that maximizes it all.

“When designing with such incredible views of the city,” says Gordon Young, co-founder and director at Say Architects (London), which worked in tandem with Yeo and London-based lighting design consultancy Into Lighting, “it’s important for the design not to compete. Special consideration was paid to the lighting to ensure it would not cause too much reflection and obstruct the views at night.”

The Shard’s central, atrium-like core through each floor meant Hutong’s layout would be divided into two main dining areas – a more open Beijing side to the right that calls to mind the communal dining atmosphere of eating in a hutong, and an intimate Shanghai side to the left segmented with sliding lattice timber screens that conjure the grandeur of traditional Shanghai homes.

Throughout the space, lighting designers opted for anti-glare adjustable downlights on a suspended track system that would focus light sparingly and only where they wanted it: on table tops, bar tops and centered down important walkways, while avoiding excess light on the floor. Low-voltage halogen reflector lamps with infrared reflective coating were selected for their high color rendering and warm glow. For an added high-design touch, all the housings were specced black to blend against the black ceiling.

On the Beijing side, seating is arranged around and under a traditional Chinese wishing tree. “[It] has the best view of London,” says Young, “and at its end is the open kitchen and duck oven, which provides the theatrical drama of cooking.” Concealed linear LED lamps highlight a feature wall that’s been adorned with tiles made from compressed dried Chinese tea. Those tea tiles, along with vintage 40s tea canisters on display, pay homage to a legendary trade.

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PROJECT SUPPLIERS

Retailer and Design
Aqua Restaurant Group, Hong Kong

Design and Architecture
Say Architects, London

Lighting Design
Into Lighting, London

Lighting
Precision Lighting, London
LED Linear GmbH, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
Osram GmbH, Munich
Enigma Lighting, Bordon, England
Engineered Lighting Products, El Monte, Calif.
Inlico, Birmingham, England
Photec Lighting Ltd., Bordon, England
Lucent Lighting, London
Zumtobel Group, Dornbirn, Austria
Mode Lighting, Hertfordshire, England

Wallcoverings/Materials
Solus Ceramics, Birmingham, England

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General Contractor
WFC, London

Photography: Richard Southall, Birmingham, England

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