German Gymnasium
D&D London
 
 
A playful conversion with an unmistakable identity
Transforming a Grade II-listed former gymnasium building into a unique contemporary European Grand Café, glamorous yet democratic with strong allusions to its past.
Photography by Marcus Peel, Paul Winch-Furness and Jean Cazals
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German Gymnasium’s history stretches back to the 1860s, when a group of German emigres founded the spacious temple to exercise and well-being. The sheer scale of the triple-height exercise hall was, in a way, an echo of the vast train stations to either side of it, namely King’s Cross and St Pancras.

During the First World War, the building was damaged by a Zeppelin strike and more damage was done by later conversions that carved up the gym into offices. Subsequently, D&D London was asked by Argent to convert the space.
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Working closely with Argent’s base build team and architect Allies and Morrison, we sought to reconfigure everything within the shell of the building to allow it to function as a hospitality space; the reinstatement of the open grandeur of the great hall combined with all of the amenities of an ambitious 21st-century restaurant.

The triple-height volume of the gym was revealed again, including the striking ceiling and its supporting arches, as well as the mezzanine gallery which runs around the open space below.

The main restaurant and bar are at ground level, with the seating carefully zoned to create a choice of experiences within the space. Dramatic new twin staircases ascend to the mezzanine level, which offers more intimate dining, a cocktail bar and private areas.
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“As someone with a German background, I was particularly conscious of our responsibility to honour and celebrate the building’s past as well as take it forward to an exciting future as a ‘destination’ restaurant and bar.”
 
Tina Norden | Partner at Conran and Partners
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Many of the building’s unique historic details, such as the climbing hooks in the ceiling and cast steel columns, have been retained, setting the tone for the choice of materials, colours and textures for interior detailing.

Warm, walnut timber panelling and black and grey distressed leather upholstery have been juxtaposed with fresh, contemporary insertions such as the occasional pink and red tone to add depth and visual interest.

Collaborating with Muzeo, we have created a playful wall design for the bathrooms which nods to the building’s former use as a gymnasium.
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German Gymnasium featured in GQ magazine
Awards
 
 
 
IDA Awards
Renovation
 
2017
German Gymnasium
Winner | Silver Place
 
 
Gold Key Award
Best restaurant fine dining
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Winner
 
 
Lux Award
Hospitality Lighting Design
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Winner
 
 
Blue Badge Style Award
Best High End Restaurant, Best Loo
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Winner
 
 
Restaurant and Bar Design Award
Best Restaurant or Bar in a Heriatge Building, Best UK Restaurant, Best Overall Restaurant (in the world)
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Winner
 
 
New London Award
Retail and Restaurants
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Winner
 
 
Hotelympia Award
Restaurant Design
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Finalist
 
 
Blueprint Awards
Best Interior Project - Leisure
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Shortlisted
 
 
FX Award
Bar and Restaurant
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Shortlisted
 
 
International Design Excellence Awards
Restaurant Design
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Shortlisted
 
 
AJ Retrofit Award
Listed Building under £5m category
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Shortlisted
 
 
World Interior News Award
Restaurants
 
2016
German Gymnasium
Shortlisted
 
 
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