Creating the architecture and interior for The Duck and Rice Pub was incorporating what Alan Yau wanted to play homage to “ the holy British Drinking Establishment – The Pub” into the core concept.
Having designed more than 40 restaurants Duck and Rice is definitely Archer Humphryes first Cantonese gastropub, combining British and Chinese themes of dining and drinking. In this revival of “watering holes of yesteryear for today” the concept is both Asian and British aesthetic traditions. Geometrical patterns play around the spaces dividing drinkers in to intimate booths warmed by wood burning fireplaces. The atmosphere is both redolent of the densely decorated Victorian pubs loved by Londoners and bears witness to a more carefully composed Asian tradition of plain and implied spaces. Formerly the Endurance pub the resulting reinvention creates a thoroughly modern venue out of this traditional previously hard-drinking den.
To do this idea, Archer Humphryes stripped the 1960s pub right back to its concrete frame, completely rebuilding the architecture with beautiful, black handmade brickwork, and putting in an extraordinary new window system. This is symmetrical and freestanding in expression with an abstract trapezoidal pattern created with random screens of milk glass set within a large bronze anodized Anolok frame. Curved and capable of sliding, these screens dominate the interior - bringing in brightness and exuding a light luminance onto the market streetscape. Like the gin palaces that preceded the modern bar, its feverish display is intended to entice people in for shelter.
Invested time has been spent in generating an interior that showcases the range of premium lagers, ales, ciders and a stout all from traditional brewers. Anchoring this offering is the unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell that is delivered from the Czech Republic every week and stored on site in four glowing copper tanks that greet you, when entering from Berwick Street.
Inside, a Western drinking tradition exudes, with customers greeted by the sounds of drinking and conversation from the main pub bar, which occupies the ground floor. To achieve this ambience, Archer Humphryes placed the kitchens off stage entirely, with dining for 70 located on the first floor, cantilevered over the front door.
The first floor is dedicated to a casual dining room with over 70 covers offering re-interpreted culinary classics from the Hong Kong, created with the help of Yau’s Turkish conceptual team Autoban.
The overriding concept of jewels within a box permeates the two floors – with a continuing matrix of alternating transparent and translucent panels throughout the interior and exterior. This creates a tension between the dark joinery of a traditional British pub interior and the monochromatic blue and white Chinese ceramic tiling. The use of the flower motif is an ornamental adornment that complements the geometric patina of all the surfaces and is instrumental in providing the fusion between the two colliding aesthetics.
Jay Rayner in his Guardian Newspaper review said.” It was once a building of such extreme ugliness even its architect couldn’t have loved it. The conversion really is that good. The heavy front walls, in bricks the colour of polluted mud, have been replaced by sails of leaded windows, with geometric patterns picked out from the oddly shaped panes. Through the door, lined up like a very welcoming committee, are the curves of shiny copper-coloured beer vats for the various pilsners on draught. The upstairs dining room, reached by a spiral staircase, hangs out over the ground floor. Through the windows can be glimpsed the huge blue and white ceramic wall panels, like blow-ups of willow pattern, which bring light into the sexily down-lit space. This stretch of London’s Berwick Street has never been one of Soho’s loveliest. Now it boasts a jewel.”