Copenhagen, Denmark

Polyform Architects


Just like the food they prepare, the outdoor space of world’s best restaurant is based on Scandinavian terroir

Fig.1 The garden tells the story of the 'terroir' that has shaped the new Scandinavian kitchen. (Image: Wichmann+Bendtsen)
Fig.2 Polyform took the landscapes of Scandinavia as a starting point. (Image: Polyform)
Fig.3 Lava rocks from Iceland create height differences and a rough surface. The plants are robust and evergreen. (Image: Wichmann+Bendtsen)
Fig.4 The garden creates a comfortable distance between guests and passers-by. (Image: Wichmann + Bendtsen)

NOMA restaurant by chef Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen has been leading the list of best restaurants in the world for years and is known for the use of Scandinavian ingredients. A few years ago, the outdoor area of ​​the restaurant was redesigned, among other things to ensure the privacy of the guests. It often happened that tourists were peeking in with their nose against the window.

Redzepi asked agency Polyform to make a design. It was not the intention of Redzepi to set up a line of defense, according to Polyform director Thomas Kock. "He didn't want to exclude the curious minds but rather create a buffer zone around the restaurant, which gave visitors the experience of Noma and in this way included them." ( i ) Like Redzepi, Polyform took the landscapes of Scandinavia as its starting point. "We wanted a landscape that showcased the Nordic region's rugged beauty and told the story of the terroir that has shaped and inspired the new Nordic", said Kock.
The 400 square meter garden is a representation of the North Atlantic coasts. Lava rocks from Iceland create height differences and a rough surface. It is implanted with robust, evergreen plants from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands and Norway. Three beehives stand among the sections, a long-cherished dream of Redzepi. The honey is used in the kitchen of NOMA.

The garden has been received enthusiastically. "Small and exquisite, it relates to what the restaurant is about and it’s captured the essence of Scandinavia, which is what the restaurant does. […] The execution and ambition is brilliant.”, said landscape architect and jury member Huw Morgan at the presentation of the 2014 WAN Landscape Award. ( ii ) After visiting the garden, not everyone will make a link with the coastal landscapes of Scandinavia. The conceptual relationship with the kitchen of the restaurant, on the other hand, is strong.

The designers only used rocks and plants. The garden is therefore not a miniature and the shape does not refer to the countries concerned. The sensory experience is limited, so that the garden is primarily an image, a sign for the restaurant.

( i ), January 5, 2019.
( ii ), consulted March 8, 2019.