Belgo is an international restaurant chain that serves Belgian food: moules, frites and biere, and exploits the Belgian idiosyncrasies as a theme. Our design strategy was to play with our client's themes, trying to exploit their formal, structural and organisational qualities, beyond their intentionally kitsch origins. Mussel shells, velodromes, stomachs and intestines, bier barrels, medieval vaults, stained glass, Breughel, Bosch, became our form-making devices.
Belgo Zuid is placed in a former dance hall/small theater in Notting Hill Gate in London. Due to the poor condition of the existing building, a large part of it had to be demolished and replaced by a structure that would match the requirement of its new use. The walls and the roof of the main dining hall were rebuilt as structures both structural and enclosing. Their geometry is complex, due to the views of neighbours over the roof and the distribution of skylights, and exploits the theme of the shell and its material continuity. The wall and the roof of these surfaces have become a single element clad in stainless steel on the outside, and wrapped with oak planks on the inside.
The surface presents three cuts that open the main space to daylight. Both the geometry of the space and its superficial texture is designed to maximise the deflection of gravity. On the north face of the main space, we have maintained the opening of the old proscenium, to expose the kitchen operation, and a bar that is place above the kitchen. The kitchen is finished in stainless steel, and lit with red neon, while the bar has a sky-blue lighting, forming a medieval diptych representing hell and heaven, as in Bosch. The façade of the building is three meters wide and four stories high and is occupied by a 12m- high rotating sign placed above the entrance. The entrance opens to a 3m-wide and 20,-long corridor, clad in beer bottles, that in turn opens to the main dining hall.