There is no doubt that the Olympic Games brought a lot of creative development to London. The games might be over by now but the city still enjoys their legacy.
The Movement Cafe was built in anticipation of the 2012 Olympic Games alongside an ambitious mixed-use scheme to transform the former Greenwich Industrial Estate and gateway for the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The conceptual origin for this frank cafe had the interesting goal of becoming a new social community space and, at the same time, showcasing the best of British design.
‘We wanted to build a welcoming place with a strong visual narrative that would reflect the originality that London is known for’, say the people behind the initiative.
Nestled next to the DLR station in Greenwich, the Movement Cafe is a temporary gem, a pop-up shop made on the spot within two weeks (!) in August 2012, right in the midst of the electric buzz of the Olympic borough of Greenwich in order to serve both its residents and visiting tourists. The cafe was designed by graphic designer and artist Morag.
Commissioned by Cathedral Group as the public art project for their new development in Greenwich, it stands as the bright case of a coffee shop that mashups art and architecture. Lemn Sissay, the Official Poet of the London 2012 Olympics, whose words ornament a variety of monuments and places, has been commissioned by Cathedral to write a poem about Greenwich, eventually emblazoned on the road, walls frames, furniture details, and billboard that wrap the site of the Movement Cafe.
The poem, Shipping Good
This is the House.
This is the Path.
This is the Gate.
This is the Opening.
This is the Morning.
This is a Person Passing.
This is Eye Contact.
Myerscough’s design-conscious creation, inspired by Sissay´s tweet, aspired to be much more of a warm welcome at the end of the project. Myerscough combined his words into the design of the cafe, hand-painting them on large wooden panels. 3D geometric patterns. Colors. All combined. With a unique approach by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan of Supergroup, the furniture is designed from recycled laboratory tops. Whereas for its stools and seating areas, cushions are hand-sewn from kite fabric. Its characteristic decoration reminisces to the visitor a playground area, but it constitues a vocal point of the identity of the cafe to act as an alternative to the traditional way to savour your English tea.
The cafe is quite a sight! When viewing from afar, its reverberant colors draw your eyes in. Every inch of its design expresses a friendly vibe, especially thanks to the vibrant typography in British accent. Also, the fact that it is run by the Greenwich Co-Operative Development Agency (a local not-for-profit organisation that works with disadvantaged communities across London promoting sustainable living) only adds to its status. Whether it is for coffee, tea or a small snack, the Movement Cafe makes the perfect places to be in, that stimulates you and often makes you smile. The result is an endearingly relaxed space with a lot of urban, understated personality.
The cafe has an amphitheatre-like shape created outdoors and all around the natural level of the site, being 2m below street level. As a result, the cafe makes creativity flourish and the visitors have the chance to attend storytelling, poetry reading or acoustic performances several times a week. In the close future, it will also include a bicycle cafe and repair shop. For when you give a purpose to a space, it develops through the activities that take place there. You can see details of upcoming events on the cafe’s facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MVMNTCafe
For all of you heading to East London, don’t miss the chance to hang out in the Movement Cafe as the site will remain open until Christmas.
Words: Maria Passarivaki