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Chic retractable roofing

Case Studies | July 1, 2019 | By:

The design team of Charles H. Benson & Associates Architects and the firm Herzog and de Meuron created all-weather courtyard dining within the walls of Miami Beach’s Chotto Matte. A retractable canopy that has already survived Hurricane Irma provides protection against the elements. Photos: Uni-Systems LLC.

The trendy London restaurant Chotto Matte recently opened its first U.S. outpost in Miami Beach, Fla. Specializing in Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, the restaurant has a cool, modern aesthetic that combines an urban Tokyo vibe with the South Florida tropics. Colorful murals created by local street artists splash across the walls and contrast with the graphic marble floor. To add drama, the designers placed a Sicilian lava stone boulder weighing 19 tons in the restaurant space.

Natural light bathes Chotto Matte from above through a ceiling open to the sky. Inspired by an abstract Japanese roof design known as Irimoya, the open roof spans the restaurant and has a simple, beautiful appeal. 

In case of rain, the roof system includes an En-Fold® stadium grade retractable awning. Manufactured by Uni-Systems LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minn., the awning is fully protective and adds a unique design component to the space. Translucent and minimalist, the retractable canopy is made with ePTFE fabric, and can be opened or closed with the push of a button. Fully extended, it overhangs the edges of the 36-by-24-foot light well. When it’s fully retracted, the only thing that is visible to diners is a slender stack of retracted fabric. 

Two 38-foot long aluminum drive beams are spaced 27 feet apart to support the canopy. They are completely out of view when the awning is in the retracted position, offering an unobstructed view of the sky. The En-Fold structure cannot be seen from below, which was an important specification of the design team. Installation was handled by Thompson Architectural; the awning fabricator was Lightweight Manufacturing Inc. of Whitehall, Pa. For more information, visit

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