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German Gymnasium

The newest restaurant from D&D London, opening in King’s Cross in November 2015. The new interiors, designed by Conran and Partners, occupy the original triple height space and contain a blend of restored original features and modern interpretations inspired by the original use, such as gold mesh screens inspired by Victorian detailing and fencing masks, transforming the Grade II Listed Building into a unique destination.

German-Gymnasium-By-Conran-Partners-02-Jean-Cazals-759x938 German Gymnasium / Conran & Partners

© Jean Cazals

The German Gymnasium a Grade II listed former nineteenth century gymnasium between King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International has been renovated and has now become a new restaurant operated by D&D London. The venue is made up of the ground floor Grand Cafe, first floor restaurant and the Meister Bar.

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© public domain

German Gymnasium was designed by Edward Gruning and was England’s first purpose-built gymnasium, with funding coming solely from London’s German community. It was built in 1865 for the German Gymnastics Society (established in 1861 by Ernst Ravenstein) and hosted the indoor events London’s first Olympic Games, back in 1866.

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© public domain

“In 2013 Allies and Morrison were commissioned to restore and repair the fabric of the building to a shell and core finish to enable subsequent fit out by a restaurant operator. The proposals restore the original volume of the German Gymnasium removing as much of the first floor as possible to allow the large laminated timber trusses and closed boarded roof structure to be seen and enjoyed from ground level as it was originally intended. This involved carefully removing internal partitions and rooms that once filled the space to reveal the building’s original internal volume. The long galleries that once ran along either side of the first floor were restored, building from the original timber structures still buried beneath the later finishes, using replicated timber strut detail and the cast iron columns with decorated capitals as support beneath them.” – Allies and Morrison

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© Marcus Peel

Externally, the brickwork was cleaned, repaired and repointed in matching material, a number of openings adjusted at ground floor level to improve permeability. The brick parapets at the gable ends were lifted and re-dressed in lead to allow for new build up in roof finishes and new insulation to be inserted.

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© Paul Winch-Furness

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© Paul Winch-Furness

Conran & Partners:

Located between King’s Cross and St Pancras railway stations, German Gymnasium was originally constructed in 1864 for the German Gymnastic Society. It was the first of its type in England and the first venue to host our National Olympic Games.

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© German Gymnasium

We were commissioned to create a glamorous yet democratic contemporary European Grand Café to complement the newly invigorated King’s Cross masterplan, and transform the Grade II-listed building into a unique destination. Our concept is a refined modern insertion within the existing building; a Bauhaus version of a European Grand Café.

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© Jean Cazals

We worked closely with landlord Argent’s base build team and their architects Allies and Morrison to preserve the building’s core structure, whilst making necessary interventions to prepare it for its new life as a hospitality venue.

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© German Gymnasium

The main spatial concept was to reinstate the first floor ‘viewing’ gallery (previously in filled in the 90’s for office space) to allow for impressive views of all dining areas and most importantly the breath-taking roof structure.

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© German Gymnasium

Many of the building’s unique historic details, such as the climbing hooks in the ceiling and cast steel columns, have been retained, setting the tone for the choice of materials, colours and textures for interior detailing. Warm, walnut timber panelling and black and grey distressed leather upholstery have been juxtaposed with fresh, contemporary insertions such as the occasional pink and red tone to add depth and visual interest.

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© German Gymnasium

“Every D&D restaurant is a unique destination and treated with a particular and distinct design approach. Our brief for German Gymnasium was to create a modern interpretation of a classic brasserie, with German undertones – which led to much research, exploration and analysis. And, as someone with a German background myself, I was particularly conscious of our responsibility to honour and celebrate the building’s past as well as take it forward to an exciting future as a ‘destination’ restaurant and bar. I hope we have achieved this.” – Tina Norden, Project Director / Conran and Partners

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© Marcus Peel

Project Data:

Project name: German Gymnasium
Location: King’s Blvd, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BU, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.532473, -0.125336
Type: Lounge / Bar / Restaurant / Night Clubs
Project Area: 1,585 sqm
Status: Built
Completion: November 2015
Visit German Gymnasium’s Website: here


  • 2016 – Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Category: Best Overall Restaurant – Winner
  • 2016 – Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Category: Best UK Restaurant – Winner
  • 2016 – Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Category: UK / Restaurant or Bar in a heritage building – Winner
  • 2016 – New London Awards – Category: Retail & Restaurants – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: King’s Cross Central Partnership

Restaurateur tenant: D&D London

Interior designer:


Project Team:

  • Tina Norden, Meredith Hull

Project Manager: PSE Associates
Contractor :

  • BAM Construction
  • 3Interiors


  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Lehding Services Design
  • Structural Engineer: Arup
  • Services engineer: Hoare Lea


  • Cost consultant: Gardiner & Theobald
  • Landscape architect: Townshend Landscape Architects
  • Planning consultant: Nathanial Litchfield & Partners
  • Lighting: Into Lighting

Text Description: © Courtesy of Conran & Partners, Allies and Morrison
Images: © German Gymnasium, Allies and Morrison, Jean Cazals, Emli Bendixen, Marcus Peel, Paul Winch-Furness


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