John Nash designed St James’ Park to simulate nature, with curving organic shapes, gentle slopes and carefully contrived views. Inn the Park subtly picks up on Nash’s design.

At a point where two sweeping paths meet, a double curved, lozenge shaped space is created, set within a gently rising hillock. The surrounding grass landscape rolls up on to a roof top terrace. Approaching from all sides the cafe emerges as an elegant wood clad, shelter, with a glazed frontage, making full use of the spectacular views.

The layers of the building create continuity between inside and outside space. There is fixed public bench seating along the path for passers by to enjoy the setting and a raised café terrace, providing covered seating for 120, overlooking the lake. The organic timber lined interior, with space for 100 more formal covers, has fully retractable glazed doors that open up to the terrace. Behind these public layers the kitchen, storage and service yard are all set into a newly landscaped hill.

Austrian Larch was used throughout the building because of its warm colour and suitability for external and internal use. The larch, forming the primary structure and envelope of the building, has been left untreated externally so that it gradually weathers over time. Inside, the larch is oiled to retain its bright colour on a series of subtly curving wall panels, emphasizing the building's organic and asymmetrical geometry.

“The building is a minor marvel. Where else in London can you find architecture, food and landscape in such perfect harmony?” RIBA Journal, November 2004


  • Location St James's, London, United Kingdom
  • Value £5 million
  • Size 575 m²
  • Client The Royal Parks Agency
  • Year 2002

Selected Awards

  • Civic Trust Award
  • Time Out Magazine: London Eating & Drinking Awards, Best-in-Category
  • The Westminster Society Award
  • The Wood Awards: Shortlist
  • BD Magazine: Architect of the Year (Leisure Category)