Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Food Place - a summary of 10 Feb workshop

The cafe can be a catalyst for social cohesion - it's what a community centre is all about. The space has got to be flexible enough to do several things, to work for all members of the community and to sustain itself beyond the life of a funded project.

We liked welcoming entrances and open, visible space: we asked 'How can we make our space both welcoming and secure?' We thought about whether people relaxing in the area would be affected by others using it as an entrance to the centre, people propping their bikes outside etc, kids rampaging and so on. We could make it visible but perhaps not directly accessible from the road and have passive security in the form of barriers such as a living fence or the placement of furniture. Alternatively we could have two entrances.

We agreed to keep the momentum up by communicating via email, blog, website and meetings. The Local Food, Communitybuilders and Community Voices applications will hopefully keep us together and focused, plus the 'virtual cafe' Mayor's Fund events between now and November. Ruth, Loscinia and Jane are going on the Buildings by Design course on 24 & 25 February at Hackney City Farm. We could make a physical model of the centre for local people to look at - the displays have generated quite a bit of interest, alternatively we could make a virtual model to put on the website, using Sketch Up.

We need to maintain a broader perspective - what else do we want to do with the building and how can we make it more navigable and welcoming as a whole? We can carry on looking for sources of funding that broadly fit in with what we've decided to do, but be opportunistic too - a Place for the 21st Century.

We agreed to meet on 3 March at 4pm, to feedback on the design course and progress on the applications and business plan. More information about the brief, finding an architect, planning regs and costings to follow...


  1. Security and entrances - during the summer if a group, say of kids, are in the food place the doors will want to be open. Need to know that the kids will be safe and the outside space doesn't just go down to the road for a kid to be squashed by a bus or people won't just be able to stroll in. Would also be good to allow them to let off steam outside in the fresh air or even do some prep work on tables in a secure space.

    Therefore need to have a way that a section of outside area can be penned off to make an inside and outside area that is safe from passers by. Also if you are doing something outside and go in for a few minutes you want to know that what you have left outside is secure-ish.

    Sitting outside when it's raining - if the front is glass a waterproof retractable awning so that the space doesn't get too hot in summer, also the space could be open and used if it rains. Could double the numbers of people that can use the space as well. Free and liberating and a good advert to passers by!

    A raised area could be the limits of the penned area, with storage underneath?

    Going through a separate entrance means people may pass by what is on offer at the Goldsmiths - people may pick up bits of information on the way. A very inviting and welcoming entrance and not institutional in any form.

  2. I like the idea of creating an entrance where the bike stands and noticeboard are at the moment (right hand side). It is not only really accessible as the slope is halfway up it also is almost perfectly level to the ramp entrance of the proposed food place. Maybe with a beautiful gate. It would be great to integrate accessibility rather than have to create it.