A night shot of a white fish and chips restaurant with doors opened to the street.

Unknown Works uses 3D scanning to replicate fish and chips shops in Chengdu

The London and Hong Kong-based design and research studio Unknown Works has used 3D scanning to help create a compact fish and chips shop called Scotts TKL with a folding facade in Chengdu, China. Inspired by the aesthetics of the United Kingdom’s distinctive “chippies,” the firm used Lidar scanning and photogrammetry in various fish shops, including the original Scotts in York, to capture details down to the joinery, wallpaper, and salt shakers. From these scans, the studio generated point clouds which were then processed to form models that were sent to contractors—who normally specialize in making Disney mascots and Marvel film sets—to create CNC molds that were later hand-finished.

The molds were cast in white glass-reinforced plastic which join together to make a sleek facade. Since the shop is only 345 square feet, Unknown Works placed the various facade components on axes so that they can swing out when Scotts TKL is open, creating more usable space and opening the restaurant up to the street corner. Tables fold down from within the walls.

A person swings open a large white door panel, the wall adjacent to them is all white but appears as a wall in the kitchen with various fixtures. Behind them is a white tile wall with a red neon sign.
The glass-reinforced plastic doors feature detailing—down to salt shakers and aprons—scanned from fish and chip shops around the U.K. (Courtesy Unknown Works)

Unknown Studio was inspired by the idea of “Shanzhai,” a word which describes, in the words of the firm, “the act of copying and imitation that is so often indiscriminately directed at Chinese commerce.” By reimagining the distinctively British chippie for China using scans of shops back in the U.K., the studio hopes to encourage a broader dialogue about cultural exchange and the dynamics of how the U.K. and China relate to one another.

Unknown Studio has used 3D scanning throughout their practice, including animations inspired by the theorizations of the artist Wassily Kandinsky.