Detail in Simplicity

Detail in Simplicity / Charles Bettes, Paul Spooner / London, England

Detail In Simplicity

A Proposal for the NMAXU Competition ‘Architecture & Food’ By Spooner & Bettes

Detail in Simplicity

The design is based around an honest, simple use of materials that respond to the brief and the site, to create a thoughtful contemporary proposal.

Design Approach

Spooner and Bettes believe that design should be simple, informed by the brief and put together cleanly using a careful use of materials. It should not distract from the programme and proposed use of the space, in this case eating and drinking with friends and colleagues.

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Rather than elaborate decorations, design intent is expressed using clean lines, a thoughtful composition of materials and their junctions and a careful understanding of the programme. A system of ‘reduction’ is used to eliminate elements that do not improve the space or add anything to the overall design.

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Although the proposals should ‘fade in to the background’, becoming the setting for the actions that take place about them, the inserted elements should have a mass and weight to them, a timeless quality that ensures they become a solid addition to the space that will age alongside the wider environment.

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By using scale, partitions and platforms smaller spaces and areas are created to develop a range of stories and provide a narrative for the space. This range of areas provides the users with ways of occupying the spaces and differing feelings and environments to occupy.

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Seating / Serving / Eating

The small width allowed for in the brief, the veranda proposed difficulties with providing areas to sit and eat, whilst also allowing for movement around and between the tables. We quickly divided the 3-metre space into 4 strips, 2 for sitting, one for eating and another for movement. These strips became our starting point, allowing us to play with heights and planes, creating a sculptural folded piece with spaces above and below rather than on one plane.

authors: Spooner & Bettes


The climate of the area along with the programme detailed in the brief led us to believe a low maintenance and long lasting material, was best, one that is easy to use, form and look after. We required a material that will develop with age, whilst providing a solid and obvious weight to the proposals. On top of this the budget required a cost effective way of developing an interesting addition to the building. We felt concrete was appropriate due to the subtle and beautiful aesthetic associated with is as well as the cost effective nature of the material.

Bar / Veranda / Garden / Pavilions

We felt it was important that the scheme read as whole rather than individual elements and looked to link the various aspects of the brief within our design. Therefore rather than creating a floating platform level we aimed to develop a proposal that linked the bar with the garden, and read as a continuous folding plane becoming the pavilions as well as the veranda. This play of levels develops a story within the scheme and a development of the space and the inherent interest associated with it.



The table layout indicated on our drawings indicates tables spaces for 40 people, with a covered area seating a further 30 people on bench style seating. This is indicative and could have more tabled seating if required. The pavilions / additional garden seating fold up from the concreted garden area and again could be developed to provide more or less seating as required.

Concrete / Planting / Steel

The combination of concrete walls and floors with green walls and planting areas creates a hard wearing proposal that is also softened and creates interesting yet subtle details with the folded concrete areas. Thin grooves cut into the concrete planes reduce the scale of the faces to provide a more textured and human scale to the veranda. Black steel is introduced to maintain the clean aesthetic and forms handrails and stairs treads.


The lighting is positioned so as to maintain the subtle and simple design of the scheme. It is cut into the floor plane of the concrete seating space and lights up the shuttered concrete wall to provide indirect lighting to the seating areas. The covered area has small spotlights that ‘randomly’ light up small areas to transform the space at night whilst maintaining the desired aesthetic. Lighting could be added to the pavilions in the same way.

The veranda accompanies the food and drink and is designed as we feel food should be; simply, honestly and thoughtfully. We hope you enjoy it.




In trying to create a collaboration between food and architecture that was both creative and of use to the local community. Our prospective design tries to create an ever evolving space where members of the local and wider populations can participate and influence the use and design of the structure. Our design hopes to integrate phases of the food cycle from growth to composting, in order to help people enjoy a closed loop cycle throughout the year.


Food is an intrinsic part of many lifestyles, and a sense of community, whether it be with friends, family or strangers, can be created whilst sharing a meal, a table etc. We hope to create such an atmosphere by allowing the space to be something for each of these parties, with opportunities to forge new relationships within the community.


Food especially has taken a stronghold in the world of social media, with apps such as Foodspotting, Pinterest and Instagram also featuring a high percentage of food and associated images. The sharing of food naturally has extended to the sharing of experiences about food. People enjoy seeing what others are eating and where; a friendly competitive atmosphere is created and shared when growing one’s own fruit and vegetables – pictures are updated showing progress, information on what was done and how; people also love to show off their own skills in the kitchen and many home cooked meals are displayed in social media forums along with recipes and accompanying videos on YouTube and similar sites.


This will be the type of information we intend to harness in order to create our community and to subsequently link it to an architecture that will then support the various interests of the group, itself.

It is the role of architecture to serve society, enhancing not only the spaces we occupy but also the way in which we occupy it. The spaces and places that coincide with our food fantasies are often an inconspicuous backdrop. The venue is often relegated to the position of a necessary, but not essential, part of the experience. Our design aims to allow for phased construction with multiple possible configurations in response to the local communities requirements thereby offering a better fit to the needs of the users.


We therefore chose to use social media as an integral part of our designing process. Social media in its many forms allows people both near and far to suggest ideas, collaborate, share and discuss any given project. This element not only allows the generation of ideas to come to the forefront but it also allows us on the project to negate and change items that will not be of use or perhaps even obstructive to local use.

Using social media as a key element of our design process, we hope to ensure that the structure created is of use year round to local inhabitants in many forms and can therefore cater to a wider audience allowing mass participation. We hope that creating an initial community can lead to the space being used for items we have not yet anticipated, as well as enhancing the local area and the attached restaurant space.

Trending Architecture — concept


Trending Architecture — concept

Food has always involved collective experiences. The rise of gastronomy has now intersected with the advent of social media to bring a time when we share our eating experiences more than ever before.


In our resplendent times of full bellies, food has become a novelty of socialising. We rave about the latest creations and the marvellous flavours that we come across because it is not just our stomachs we wish to satiate but also our craving for being part of a larger group. And so we blog. We tweet. We pin images of the edible wonders that interest us. Food, in its many dimensions, has become a means by which we can be a part of a larger group.


The spaces and places which coincide with our food fantasies are often an inconspicuous backdrop. The venue is often relegated to the position of a necessary, but not essential, part of the experience. Showmanship need not be the aim of architecture, however, it must allow for the uses demanded by the population it serves. Foodies, themselves, may be fickle and fanciful, however food has aspects that can be anticipated: BUYING, SELLING, COOKING, EATING, GROWING and CLOSED LOOP CYCLES. Food, in its many dimensions, demands its own brief for the architecture which is to serve it.


This timeline shows how members of the local community as well as a wider audience can participate and influence both the design and the end use of the terrace.

As soon as a prospective design is chosen, the following social media platforms need to be set up and content needs to be added by the moderator, a client liaison with the public.

— Facebook Group
— Pinterest Site
— Twitter Feed
— Vine Feed

Information on the prospective design and ideas for future plans will be added to start the conversation with the community both locally and on a wider scale.

Throughout May and June this activity will continue, however the moderators role will now be to also keep signed up users engaged. Therefore answering queries, sharing users information with others to create a more enhanced collaborative effort and updating sites with all new information. This will include videos on construction progress.

We are hoping that during the initial 3 month period we are able to garner enough interest to create a social media community that will help ascertain the exact use of the building space, and allow it to evolve according to seasonality…