Replacing a former 19th-century conservatory within a Grade II-listed country estate now transformed into a new, modern retirement development by PegasusLife, the Wildernesse Restaurant by Morris+Company is the beating heart of this new community.
Built from timber and with a dramatic sequence of vaulted ceilings, the restaurant offers a new shared dining space and gathering point for the estate and wider community. A strong visual connection is made to the impressive historic context and thriving landscape through carefully considered open plan arrangement and large glazed openings that connect inside and outside. The light-filled internal spaces are accentuated by the central elevated lantern and richness of finishes that aim to reinstate the former pavilion typology to the estate.
The restaurant is conceived as a centerpiece to the site vision and designed to be clearly distinct – a communal focal point. Through its form, scale, appearance, materiality and detail, the building speaks of a more public programme, whilst acknowledging and respecting its context and long-lasting heritage. The restaurant provides flexible uses, such as a morning breakfast area that transitions into a whisky bar in the evening, a sequence of intimate dining spaces that can transform into a communal event hub, and external seating areas spread across the entrance terrace.
The restaurant is designed as a free-standing, lightweight and elegant pavilion, which acts on the cues that the main estate building evokes. Offsite production of the timber superstructure enabled a rigid and precise 4mx4m structural grid of arched bays and columns that are exposed internally, providing a striking backdrop for visitors. This primary grid is wrapped in a stained timber layer, which is then further dressed in an outer delicate and intricate metal skin, nodding to the windows of the main Grade II listed building.
All of the building elements are connected to the landscape with flush thresholds and large expanses of windows which continue to encourage the sense of a shared place. The distinctions between public and private are clearly evident, but these thresholds are discreet and delicate, retaining views into the building and adding animation and vibrancy to an otherwise quiet destination.
The materiality also is consistent and carefully considered, linking movement between buildings with hard and durable surfaces, laced through with lighter areas of planting. These harder stone and granite surfaces root the building in its context and draw upon the enduring aesthetics of the existing mansion house, whilst providing a complementary and contrasting base for the lighter structure above.