Nando’s Loughton occupies a 1920s former car dealership on the junction of Loughton’s High Street and Station Road. BuckleyGrayYeoman’s design responds to the unique Art Deco architecture of the restaurant from first principles, and the circular layout of the restaurant is taken from the curved shopfront that gives the restaurant real presence on the corner.
BuckleyGrayYeoman has made a feature of the restaurant entrance by replacing a section of the building’s cantilevered glass canopy in the area over the door and replacing it with a sinuous timber gridshell structure that snakes its way into the restaurant, clearly marking the circulation areas, most importantly the path to the service counter. The path of the gridshell is reflected in the different treatment of floor surfaces, with reclaimed timber parquet in the dining area contrasting with blue ceramic-tiled walkways inlaid with LED Lighting.
Fixed elements of the restaurant layout – such as the booth seating and curved self-service bar for condiments in the centre of the restaurant – are placed on concentric rings that follow the curvature of the shopfront to accentuate the circularity of the space. This effect is heightened by a full height rammed-earth wall that runs in a curve around over a quarter of the circumference of the room, creating a circular enclosure that separates the dining area from ancillary areas such as the washrooms and back of house.
As with all of BuckleyGrayYeoman’s Nando’s restaurants, Loughton makes use of a lively mix of found and reclaimed materials and surfaces: table tops are covered in metal from reclaimed car body panels; upcycled timber planks are used to clad areas of the ceiling and banquette seating; the timber beams embedded in the rammed earth wall are a playful twist on the Essex mock-Tudor farmhouse style, and wire mesh suspended from the ceiling partially conceals the services and lighting from view. Bespoke lighting made from car headlamp bulbs hangs from the ceiling alongside vintage hand-blown glass lampshades.
BuckleyGrayYeoman has created a high quality outside dining area to make the most of the building’s large forecourt, through which grows an exceptional fir tree that is protected by a Tree Preservation Order. A ring of bench seating has been installed around the base of the tree, creating picnic table-style seating.
The windows of the restaurant have been designed with large openings to break down the separation between seating inside the restaurant and at outside tables that flank the curved wall of the restaurant. Chair backs have been attached to large blocks of timber to create public bench seating beneath the tree, on the corner overlooking the high street.
Nando’s Loughton was completed with delivery architect STAC Architecture.