Noma restaurant creates garden as buffer zone against gawkers

Main Entrance of Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen

The Copenhagen restaurant Noma attracts so many tourists it has designed a Nordic garden to stop them peering at diners through the windows.


The new garden at Noma, Copenhagen

The new garden at Noma, Copenhagen

If there’s one thing sure to further sour the taste of a pickled quail’s egg – one of the many culinary delights on the menu at Noma, “the world’s best restaurant” – then it’s got to be the sight of a hungry tourist gawping at you through the window while you’re eating it.

In fact, the swarms of food tourists who congregate outside Copenhagen’s famous restaurant were causing its diners such pains that chef and co-owner René Redzepi did what every intelligent Dane does when faced with a predicament, he called in the design team.

This week it was revealed that the Nordic garden that appeared around Noma last autumn was in fact conceived by Danish architects POLYFORM as a “buffer zone” to keep voyeuristic foodies a polite distance from the restaurant’s guests.

“René Redzepi was not interested in putting up a red rope in front of the restaurant,” says POLYFORM partner Thomas Kock, who worked on the project. “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.”

The rocky garden, which is cut into the raw concrete harbour that surrounds the 18th-century warehouse Noma is housed in, consists of a rugged landscape of evergreen plants from Scandinavia and lava stones from Iceland. Based on the Nordic terroir, it is designed to mirror the cuisine found inside.

The new Nordic landscape will also serve as a sort of external larder as bee hives are a part of the scenery as well – though potentially this could be another line of defence against persistent oglers.

The restaurant, which has been named best in the world four times in the last five years by Restaurant magazine and holds two Michelin stars, has received wide praise for the way it has redefined contemporary Nordic cuisine. Unsurprisingly, it has also ended up on the ticklist of tourists, with hundreds sometimes gathering outside to take photos or chance a peek inside at the gastronomic masterpieces they may never have the pleasure of tasting. The hope is that the “buffer zone” will be considered the most tasteful solution, offering something to those both inside and out.

Of course, whether visitors feel “included” in the culinary experience while stuck outside in a barren landscape you could describe as a foodie DMZ, is yet to be established.

Original article by Will Coldwell on The Guardian Travel