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Patrick Gwynne (1913-2003)

The Serpentine Restaurant, Hyde Park, London, 1964

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Patrick Gwynne (1913-2003) The Serpentine Restaurant, Hyde Park London, c.1964 Gallery Lingard

Pencil & graphite
Signed:  Patrick Gwynne
Inscribed:  Serpentine Restaurant, Hyde Park, London / Opened 1964 / Architect Patrick Gwynne
46 x 33.5 cms  (18 x 13 1/4 inches)
See photograph of the completed building below

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In 1963 Geoffrey Rippon proposed new catering facilities for Hyde Park to be built by private caterers.  A limited competition for Forte's two sites in the park won Gwynne the commission to design the Serpentine and Dell Restaurants.  Gwynne incorporated two basic ideas of 'shelter' and 'outlook' into his design in order to enhance the experience of Hyde Park to visitors;  this was done by providing conservatory type buildings with umbrella-like solutions for the roofs.  Terraces were high, raised well above water level not only to provide panoramic views across the Serpentine but also to accommodate the concealed service rooms beneath.  Car-parking for visitors was kept out of sight.  All this was achieved against a background of tight budgets, difficult planning restrictions and a rushed programme - remarkably the Serpentine Restaurant was open by 1964.  Gwynne designed the original interior fittings and furniture, with an emphasis being placed on high levels of finish.

The Times Obituary (8 May, 2003) described Gwynne's "... much-loved restaurants in Hyde Park" and regretted the demolition of the Serpentine Restaurant in 1990.  The Dell Restaurant does survive and received Grade II listing status in January 1995.  The listing corresponded to the National Trust's acceptance into its care of Gwynne's own house, The Homewood, in 1995 (built for his parents in 1938 and lived in by him from 1942 until his death in 2003).

View of the Serpentine Restaurant, Hyde Park London

Gwynne trained as an articled pupil of John Coleridge, a former assistant of Edwin Lutyens, and later as an assistant of Wells Coates where he worked alongside Denys Lasdun.  His first commission was for The Homewood, completed in 1938, which is the most accomplished translation of Corbusian domestic architecture to be built in the United Kingdom.  The added attention Gwynne paid to the design and quality of the interior fittings was a trait he maintained throughout his career.  Returning from RAF service after the war, Gwynne built up a practice of private house commissions, including a house for Charles Forte, and many are now listed.  There were also public buildings and larger projects such as the foyer and restaurant for the Theatre Royal in York (1967-68), medical centres, shops, apartments and pioneering motorway buildings.