Cadogan Cafe Competition, 2012
in a glass case grows a perforated steel orchard
the structure grows towards the dappled light
A perforated single surface structure in 3 mm steel holds up a glass case and delicately reaches down
to the ground in 14 spiraling columns. Under the canopy and between the columns sits a cafe and
events space awash with dappled light. The servant space is embedded below ground level to allow
direct views from Kings Road to the Saatchi Gallery's parade square.
The design is a 'Shell Lace Structure', a pioneering technique developed by Tonkin Liu and Arup that
is inspired by nature. Seashells gain strength from optimised curvilinear geometry, locking in
stiffness with corrugation. Lightness is achieved through perforation, creating highly-efficient and
responsive structures with minimum weight and wastage.
The technique has been developed through research and experiment with digital modelling, digital
analysis, and digital fabrication tools. The design process is intuitive, analytical and iterative. Three-
dimensional geometries are built up virtually from conjoined developable surfaces. These surfaces are
unzipped at the seams, unrolled and nested allowing efficient computer aided cutting from a flat
sheet material. The cut profiles are reassembled to create the final three-dimensional form.
Architects Tonkin Liu
Client Cadogan Estate
Location Kings Road, London
Size 240 sqm
Structural Engineer Arup
Sustainability & Energy Arup