Olive + Squash Cafe

The project, for a start-up salad and slow food café in the City of London, has a split personality – it is a space that both accommodates our frenetic work rhythms and invites us to slow down. It is a cafe that serves slow food fast, celebrating its locally sourced ingredients. The architecture therefore has two tasks; to address multiple speeds of engagement, and to provide a neutral framework that foregrounds the various shapes and colors of the vegetables, herbs, fruits, and grains on its menu.

The space is asymmetrically divided in half, with a take-out counter adjacent to the street below, and a dining room in a newly constructed mezzanine above. The space below is neutral, cool, and hard, allowing the bright colors and geometries of the raw produce to be the primary material. Above, the palette is warm, textured, and soft, inviting visitors to gather and linger over their meal.

To physically divide, but visually connect these two distinct spaces we have constructed a white metal grid. A contemporary echo of the traditional farmer’s trellis, the grid hosts plants, flowers, herbs, menu signage, and integrated seating. This simple device articulates multiple spatial relationships in a single gesture; defining the primary spaces, framing views, curating movement, and providing a defining identity for the store.

Program: Cafe
Size: 109 sq.m.
Year: 2016
Status: Built
Location: London, United Kingdom

Client: Olive + Squash
Design Team: Xristina Argyros, Ryan Neiheiser, Thalia Chrousos, Jacek Baczkowski
Structural Engineer: Webb Yates
MEP Engineer: McDermott Consulting
Lighting Design: Pinto Lighting
Contractor: Own Developments