During the construction of Bloomberg’s Foster & Partners-designed European headquarters in Central London, Avondale, the project’s construction managers, approached spatial practice students and staff at Central Saint Martins (CSM) to design a temporary canteen facility for the two thousand construction workers working on site. They requested a space for rest and relaxation that transcended the traditional modular table and chair units seen at most construction site canteens.
We spearheaded the initiative, working with students from across the BA and MA Architecture courses in a combined design office to conduct site, desk, social and technical research and analysis. The information and insights we collected were utilised to brainstorm new and innovative ways of providing a better dining experience for the site operatives, including the design of furniture and finishes.
A major design inspiration was the iconic photograph of workers eating their lunch on a steel beam hoisted high above New York during the construction of the RCA building at the Rockefeller Centre in 1932 – hence the project’s name: ‘Lunch atop a landscape’.
The canteen can be broken down into several distinct sections. Workers enter via a cloakroom where they can store their belongings. In the main space, bench seating, standing coffee bars and stepped bleacher seating allow for informal mingling. Long tables offer a more formal dining environment, arching upwards to create doorways in seamless fashion while tying the space together. The success of the project stemmed from the students’ engagement with the client and the workforce, incorporating feedback into a design that responded effectively to their demands.
The following students from CSM’s spatial practices department were involved in the design: Mikel Azkona, Ilaria Catalano, Jandre Grobler, Marianna Janowicz, Lou Kelemen, Carla Motola, Alma Mpungwe, Neba Sere, Serhan Tekbas and Dominik Twarog.
Bloomberg Headquarters, London