Van Hage beats Harrods in garden centre awards with Dobbies also winning

Architectural practice HPW has beaten Harrods to win a top national retail industry award for the design of the in-store restaurant at the Van Hage Garden Centre in Peterborough.

HPW was also highly commended in the Best Edge-of-Town/Out-of-Town Store award for the same centre, won by Dobbies Garden World in Aberdeen.

HPW beat Harrods’ Caffè Florian and Frescobaldi to win Retail Week Interiors award for the Best In-Store Restaurant of the Year.

Judges said: "You probably wouldn’t expect the winner of this category to be found in what is, in effect, an edge-of-town shed. Yet such was the quality and attention to detail of the catering environment created by the HPW Partnership, that this one found its way to the top of the pile.

"You’d feel OK if you managed to get a cup of tea and a bun in a store of this kind, but this interior confounds all such expectations. With a high ceiling that is managed through the use of large-format graphics, pendant lights help to keep the eye down at the table level and create an uncluttered feel. There is also a distinctly contemporary palette of materials."

HPW director Gary Wilburn said of the garden centre's Himalayan coffee bar. "As an initial thought, the geographical location of Peterborough and the low lying Fens were considered by the design team but thinking that would be a little obvious, the idea of suggesting an environment of high altitude and difference came to mind. This led to the suggestion of putting in a colourful environment inspired by Tibet and the Himalayas. The use of abstracted references led to a central stone cairn with a cloud of prayer flags."

Growing bamboo screens and mobiles of autumn leaved branches overhead helped evoke the atmosphere in the 260-cover restaurant, which was inspired by Indonesia.

He added: "Van Hage Peterborough embraces a genuinely collaborative approach with the client, design and construction team working together to deliver an inspiring retail environment for their customer. The result is a sector-leading formula, which sets new standards of design, fit-out and merchandising for destination garden retailing."

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