There has to be a good reason why an iconic restaurant, crowned ‘best restaurant in the world’ by Restaurant Magazine, closes its doors for a one-year hiatus. For Renè Redzepi, the Michelin-starred, head chef and co-owner of new-nordic fine dining restaurant Noma, the move to Christiania in the Danish capital of Copenhagen was just the place to reset and explore the next chapter of Noma’s (second) life.
Situated on a considerable bank of waterfront overlooking the hippie refuge of Christiania, is Noma’s new home. A prototype for creative synergy, Noma Restaurant 2.0 was born out of an exciting collaboration of designers from various disciplines and including some of Scandinavia’s most talented and pioneering craftsmen.
It started with architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) who designed eleven buildings. Taking inspiration from traditional Norwegian farms, the buildings are clustered like a community and surrounded by nature with expansive views across the lake. Redzepi’s dream of creating an urban farm that could cultivate its own products was influential in the design and ties back to the foundations of Christiania itself.
Of the 11 buildings on site, a ‘village’ of seven free-standing structures form the entrance, dining barn, private dining room, kitchen, lounge and other amenities. Each building is made of a different material, chosen for its specific purpose and echoed in the interiors. At the heart of this village is the open service kitchen allowing guests to witness their dishes being assembled and experience the energy of the kitchen. Redzepi insists that the cooks are the centre of everything and their energy should spill out into the surrounding rooms connected by glass walkways.
“We have to stay there on the edge, looking for our next move. The road is not paved in front of us, for we want to be the ones laying the bricks”
– Renè Redzepi.
Redzepi called on man-of-the-moment; architect David Thulstrup to create interior spaces that reflected on Noma’s heritage. Thulstrup’s concept stays true to the external structure by repeating materials with an honest, simple and modern feel. Drawing on inspiration from residences rather than restaurants, his design incorporates oak, brick, steel, concrete and tombac in a playful approach.
Next to the kitchen, a barn-like main dining room is made entirely of wood. Including a counter made from a 200-year-old timber beam which was found immersed in the nearby harbour. Left deliberately stripped down, the dining room is designed for storytelling and as Noma’s seasonal menu changes, so too does the interior by rotating design elements and even adapting lighting to suit the outside.
The ARV collection inside the dining spaces is a design feature in itself. Working with local manufacturers Brdr Krüger, Thulstrup created a chair and table. Meaning heritage in Danish, the ARV collection is a contemporary design that references traditional craftsmanship through its complex design details. Each component is seamlessly joined without a single nail and handwoven. Thulstrup reveals “We built on Danish tradition and added something new and light”. A statement that we think that applies to all of Noma Restaurant.
The private dining room is clad entirely in Dinesen Douglas Fir and lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. On the opposite side of the village, a lounge space features handmade brick walls and a stepped oak roof, where guests can relax after their meal around a fireplace. Here, Thulstrup has combined bespoke pieces with soft furnishings and classic Nordic pieces. Connecting all the interior together, a rugged Scandinavian terrazzo floor extends through the circulation spaces within the village, which are lined with skylights to heighten guests’ awareness of the seasons.
Precision, craftsmanship and a unique exploration of textural diversity, Noma 2.0 highlights how thought-provoking design and an exceptional culinary craft combine to build the ultimate sensory experience. Part two of Renè Redzepi’s Noma reincarnation is only just the beginning.