ENEKO at One Aldwych is a new restaurant in Covent Garden, located in the One Aldwych Hotel, a Grade II listed building. The hotel and the restaurant were previously refurbished in the 1990s by Cundall, and many of the original 1907 building features were covered up, adhering to the style of the time.
The existing restaurant space was tired, lacking light and airflow, and mostly inaccessible to disabled patrons due to multiple floor levels. Cundall’s role was to update the restaurant to a modern, functional space, allowing as much daylight as possible into the basement setting. The main restaurant floor was levelled out and made accessible via lifts from the main hotel, whilst also maximising ceiling height in the space.
The original design had hidden many of the structural elements and a large number of reinforced concrete elements had been installed giving the structure a very heavy feel. Following structural assessment, all non-essential concrete was demolished and the floor was levelled, to create an inviting double-height space suitable for the restaurant and bar.
The original steel lattice columns were exposed then sand-blasted and fire protected so the structure became part of the space and design of the restaurant rather than being hidden. The vaulted retaining wall was used to form booth seating to the restaurant perimeter. The existing concrete structure which blocked out the light and air was also removed to allow the restaurant to be partially naturally lit and allow for a more spacious, open feeling.
The floating “lilypad” mezzanine for the restaurant bar was a new addition sitting above the main parts of the restaurant – serviced by a precast concrete cocktail bar and offering a place for waiting patrons with a view over the restaurant below. The feature staircases connecting the street level entrance, the mezzanine and lower restaurant floor were designed to allow daylight to penetrate and offer a clear flow through the restaurant.
As the One Aldwych Hotel is a Grade II listed building, there were risks associated with the exploration and design phases, requiring a respectful structural solution which considered the heritage of the building, while also designing for functions of the present.