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In a remarkable transformation, The OWO, formerly known as the Old War Office, situated in Whitehall, London, is set to open its doors to the public on Friday, September 29th, 2023. This iconic establishment has undergone a monumental metamorphosis, evolving into a hub featuring nine distinguished restaurants, three bars, the exquisite 120-room Raffles London Hotel, and 85 Raffles-branded residences.
The redesign of The OWO is a testament to visionary architecture firm DaeWha Kang Design (DKD), which has introduced a Grand Courtyard welcoming visitors and an awe-inspiring sculptural Pavilion housing Moma Group’s Parisian gem, Café Lapérouse. Against the backdrop of its historical significance, as it once housed a 20th-century masterpiece by William Young, the Pavilion’s rippling metal design infuses vitality into the stately structure, creating an oasis of life and vibrancy within Whitehall. Simultaneously, the reflective metal roof adds an illusionary touch, harmoniously blending with its surroundings.
DaeWha Kang Design has crowned The OWO café-bar pavilion with a stainless steel roof, encasing its circular facades in finely crafted glass, resulting in a sleek and inviting aesthetic that fosters interaction between passersby and diners. At its core, a sculptural skylight bathes the interior in natural light, unifying the space under meticulously crafted plaster. The design concept invokes the sensation of stepping into a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, with softly ribbed white columns unfurling into petals that converge to form the ceiling—a captivating backdrop for Café Lapérouse, envisioned by the renowned Cordelia de Castellane.
While prioritizing durability, the project’s materials were also selected with disassembly and future reutilization in mind. The entire structure, prefabricated for efficiency, can be swiftly dismantled for maintenance or replacement, and even relocated if required. Aston Martin paint finishes the metalwork, nodding to the building’s cinematic James Bond connection. Moreover, a five-meter-wide sculptural fountain graces the Grand Courtyard, juxtaposing the Pavilion with the interplay of a natural water feature and the reflective metal waves, offering an enthralling spectacle for The OWO’s visitors.
Notably, the cobblestones that once bore the footsteps of luminaries like Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, have been meticulously preserved and re-laid in a contemporary pattern, mirroring the shimmering, petal-inspired roof of the café-bar. Dutch-based firm Octatube collaborated with DaeWha Kang Design on crafting the Pavilion structure, in tandem with London-based Arup, who contributed their expertise in engineering, acoustics, lighting, and sustainability.
The OWO officially opens its doors on September 29, 2023, inviting all to experience the fusion of history and modernity, artistry and functionality, and tradition and innovation that define this extraordinary London landmark.
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