This year’s Archiboo Awards party will take place at the Shoreditch Arts Club, a private members club launched, designed and owned by Buckley Grey Yeoman. It joins a growing list of architects who are investing in London’s ever-evolving restaurant, club and café scene, such as Corner (top left ) and Edit (bottom left).
For practices, such as Richard Rogers Partnership (now RSHP) and Allies & Morrison, the motivation to open the River Café and the Table Cafe respectively was to provide somewhere for staff to eat and socialise.
But for architects there is the added appeal of designing a convivial space that matches the practice’s philosophy. For example, The River Café is celebrated for its exceptional Italian food yet the design – from the bright pink wood burning stove to the glass wall – is an equal part of the experience.
Here we look at six London bars, clubs and restaurants started, owned or co-owned by architects.
The Department Store, Brixton, Squire & Partners.
Squire & Partners is no stranger to the restaurant business having successfully launched 6 St Chad’s Place when the practice was based in King’s Cross. Now re-located to Brixton, the practice’s latest venture is Upstairs, a private members club on the top floor of The Department Store, part of the architect’s redevelopment of a local Brixton landmark. The club currently has 2,500 members and is open at lunch times, weekends and evenings.
Edit, Hackney, Elly Ward and Joe Morris
Architects Elly Ward and Joe Morris opened Edit, a vegan restaurant in 2023. Housed in a former factory and warehouse building in East London’s Mare Street refurbished by Morris' practice, Edit’s design philosophy closely mirrors the restaurant’s vegan, minimal-waste menu. The design reuses and recycles materials that even includes the kitchen equipment and furniture.
Corner, New Cross, Tarek Merlin and Mark Osman-Barter
Corner is an LGBTQ+ led coffee shop and art gallery that opened in 2022. Unlike other spaces on this list, Corner is a separate enterprise to Merlin's practice, Feix &Merlin, co-founded with Julia Feix. The interior is a welcoming mix of plants, natural materials and used and pre-loved pieces that includes the shop counter, repurposed from the DIY shop that previously occupied the premises.
The Shoreditch Arts Club, Shoreditch, Buckley Grey Yeoman
The practice, based in Shoreditch for over 25 years, never intended to become a club proprietor but when its landlord, Derwent London, asked if it was interested in taking on the loading bay below the studio, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Opening in 2023, the Club, aims to challenge the “tired identity and appearance of existing members’ clubs and provide a space to foster relationships between art and architecture”. Spread across three floors, faculties include a restaurant, bar, screening lounge, a 24-seat cinema and two private hire rooms.
Sessions Arts Club, Clerkenwell, SODA
The 60-cover restaurant located in the judges’ dining room at Sessions House, a Grade II* listed building in Clerkenwell, is the brainchild of restauranteur Jon Spiteri, painter Jonny Gent and architect Russell Potter, whose practice SODA was also responsible for the Club’s interiors and branding. Much of the furniture has been salvaged, including the mahogany horse-shoe bar, imported from an Irish pub.
Ombra, Hackney, fourth space
The award-winning Venetian style bar and restaurant conceived by fourth space co-founders Steve Sinclair and Paolo Mozzato also serves as the practice's informal meeting room and is the venue for the popular Negroni talks. The same team has recently expanded to include near by Forno, a bakery and deli based in former railway arch near Cambridge Heath Station.
The Archiboo Awards 2024 will take place on May 22nd at the Shoreditch Arts Club.
Corner Café, credit, David Christian, (top).
Edit, credit, Jack Hobhouse (below).