A Historic Church in London Hosts a New Cantonese Restaurant and Art Gallery

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Award-winning restaurant Duddell's London opens in the thoughtfully restored St. Thomas Church.

Entrepreneurs Alan Lo, Paulo Pong, and Yen Wong founded the Duddell's brand in Hong Kong in 2013, envisioning a restaurant that doubled as a social destination and gallery space for contemporary art. Duddell’s London is its first outpost outside of Hong Kong, and it continues the forward-thinking concept by featuring Cantonese cuisine, dim sum, and Asian-inspired cocktails alongside world-class art.

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Duddell's London is located inside St. Thomas Church, a luminous example of Queen Anne architecture, in the heart of London Bridge. Here, patrons who appreciate modern art can be awed by a regular rotation of contemporary work while enjoying two-Michelin-star, award-winning food. 

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Under the skillful direction of local architecture firm Michaelis Boyd, known for their environmentally-sound and sustainable practices, the church was respectfully restored.

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Subtle Asian design elements, such as lantern-inspired lamps and modern versions of antique Chinese chairs, complement the church's original Queen Anne features, like arched windows and dark wood wall panels.

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Spread over two floors, the restaurant's ground floor is visually oriented towards the church’s original dark timber altar.

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A monolithic, green tile-clad central island spans this level, serving as the open dim sum kitchen and cocktail bar. Pink terrazzo with white chips was used for the island’s worktop to contrast the glossy green tiles.

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 We wanted to celebrate the building’s rich history and highlight the difference between old and new. —Alex Michaelis

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In the bar section, glassware hangs on brass shelves with built-in illumination. The bar is further lit by custom-made light fittings of perforated, overlapping satin brass sheets. 

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The retro-inspired green, blue, and white geometric floor is made from rubber, and provides an interesting contrast to the more solemn, historic timber details. 

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A long, freestanding blue leather banquette is placed directly under four,  four-meter-high arched windows, so lunchtime guests can enjoy plenty of natural light during their meal.

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The mezzanine level, which wraps around two sides of the restaurant, offers views across the space and down onto the kitchen and bar. 

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In order to minimize impact on the original structure, the architects connected contemporary, gold-colored chandeliers to the ceiling using a series of lightweight fixings. 

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"When designing the space, we wanted to celebrate the building’s rich history and highlight the difference between old and new. We maximized the natural light that comes into the building to accentuate key heritage features, and now the former church has a new lease of life," says Michaelis Boyd’s co-founder Alex Michaelis.

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Project Credits:

Architecture and interior design: Michaelis Boyd

Builder, cabinetry design and installation: Newman Scott

Structural and civil engineer: Alan Baxter

Landscape design: Tulip Landscapes

Kitchen design and fit out: Salix

Planners: Planning Potential