The Building Centre - Café

The Building Centre - Café

United Kingdom, 2016

In 2015 Roz Barr Architects was appointed by the Building Centre – an organisation based in London dedicated to the promotion of innovation in the built environment – to prepare a feasibility study to ‘re-imagine’ the spaces within the building to meet the ambitions of the institution.

Roz Barr Architects saw an opportunity to show product innovation as a response to the Building Centre’s history of showcasing new products and materials. The refurbishment of the WCs, located within the vaults under Store Street in Bloomsbury, was the first phase in mending the existing building fabric. As part of the phased refurbishment, the work to the café and servery on the ground floor addressed acoustic challenges within an open public space located within the main entrance foyer.

Roz Barr Architects worked closely with suppliers with the aim of using products within each phase to create an ‘active display’ of materials, as opposed to the conventional exhibition of material samples. It was important in this project that materials were selected for their physical qualities, and expressed through novel application in a new context.

Given its location within the main entrance foyer, we wanted to explore ways to deal with the acoustical problems. A new felt wall was created, which can be used for displaying books and journals. A new yellow felt curtain sits like a column at the foot of the stairs and can close off the cafe during an event.

A new servery was designed for the new operator - The Gentleman Bariastas - featuring a new concrete and waxed steel counter and a kitchen for preparation. The space is outlined in a white porcelain tile, whichwe edged with red grout.

We also designed the tables. Each is made from a singel sheet of laminated birch ply. The chairs were supplied by Fuse and Co and have a clever acoustic baffle on the underside of the seat. We worked with metal fabricators CDS on our design for the new cafe lighting and a separate fitting used throughout the ground floor.

Photographs: John MacLean