The word ‘codesign’ is one strongly prevalant in Tilt’s vocabulary. The architecture and design firm has become something of an expert in interdisciplinary spaces, with a host of projects and products which follow the philosophy, as well as a recently-launched book on the subject. The concept has truly come to the fore in Tilt’s latest project, a mixed-used cultural venue in the Haggerston area of London – the first gallery and restaurant space for which the company was responsible for all design aspects.
The Proud Archivist is a flexible and functional venue, comprising a gallery, bar, restaurant, cafe and event space. This project is the first of which Tilt has been responsible for the architecture, design and branding. With a minimalist, clean and contemporary aesthetic, the space is reflective of Tilt’s portfolio, bringing together natural materials and a unified colour palette to make the venue as versatile as possible.
“The Proud Archivist is a striking space that creates an immediate and cohesive visual impression on those approaching from the canal bank,” Tilt’s Oliver Marlow says. “The design uses a synchronous palette of materials to provide a simple backdrop to the multitude of events and atmospheres the space can accommodate, playing with heights, depth of field, visual perspectives, lighting and architectural interventions.”
Inspired by London’s grand 17th and 18th century coffee houses, the design concept was developed by engaging the venue’s anticipated audience in a series of prototyping testing sessions. This has resulted in a space that successfully caters for a multitude of uses – from gallery openings for over 300 guests to dining for up to 100 covers.
The restaurant is split between two levels. The 484m² ground floor space is anchored by a 6.5m-long bar and kitchen, which opens out onto the Regent’s Canal towpath. A double-height library wall – made from spruce ply bookshelves stained in white – will, over time, allow the building to develop its character through books, photography and exhibitions.
The restaurant continues upstairs to a light and airy mezzanine level, which offers impressive views of the canal. The steel-structured mezzanine separates the open kitchen from the dining area above.
Tilt’s design carefully balances an open and flexible gallery space with the need to provide privacy and seclusion. A variety of materials has been specified to designate the various zones – a simple palette for the bar, restaurant and mezzanine areas contrasts with the highly finished elements of the event space.
The whole area is unified by untreated, larch ceiling fins hung at 90º angles to a floor made from reclaimed mahogany boards. A set of large, white-panelled steel doors delineate the boundary between the event space and restaurant.
The gallery’s prominent feature is the full-length light wall constructed from a steel frame and faced with 5mm polar-frosted acrylic. Lit by 33 six-foot fluorescent tubes – London’s largest light box – the wall provides an ideal canvas for displaying vinyl-printed artwork, as well as flooding the gallery with an impressive glow which can be adjusted to suit different events.
Tilt has created three new tables and accompanying benches specifically for The Proud Archivist – two long and wide designs for the events space, and more intimate square tables in the restaurant. The lighting is a mix of mini Anglepoise task lights, pendants, LED spotlights and fluorescent tubes.