The Movement Cafe
Tuesday 07 May 2013


Award banner

Café, theatre, local landmark, meeting place and poem — the Movement Café in Greenwich is all of this and more. The café turned a hole in the ground left by demolition into a fabulous community space run by the not-for-profit Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency which has hosted poetry readings, acoustic performances and a pop-up cinema. The Movement Café is a new temporary café and performance space next to the DLR station in Greenwich, South East London, designed by Morag Myerscough. It sits in a corner of the site of the former Greenwich Industrial Estate that is currently being regenerated by developers, Cathedral Group. Briefed by clients Cathedral Group to create an eye catching temporary social space that could introduce Greenwich people to its future development on the site beyond, the project was built from scratch in just sixteen days to coincide with the opening of The Olympics.

The Movement Café is an explosion of colour and type and sits at the centre of an amphitheatre-like space created from the natural level of the site, post-demolition, being 2m below street level. It’s the result of a public art collaboration between Myerscough and poet and prolific tweeter Lemn Sissay. Myerscough chose this tweet: Lemn Sissay, June 27th 2012 THIS IS THE HOUSE. THIS IS THE PATH. THIS IS THE GATE. THIS IS THE OPENING. THIS IS THE MORNING. The café was designed and built in 16 days. As there was such a short build time, the solution was to use existing shipping containers to provide a base structure, which was instantly watertight and secure. Then the work started cutting holes into the containers, attaching hand painted geometric exterior plywood cladding.

The structure is crowned with a tower of scaffolding to hold the words from the tweet with an illuminated ‘M’ and a wind sock. A bicycle to sell locally made ice cream was customised by Luke Morgan. The words from the tweet were painted by hand on large wooden panels, positioned over the core structure of the building which is covered in an original hand-painted Myerscough multi-coloured geometric pattern. Sissay’s tweets were written daily on a blackboard in the cafe. All furniture is designed and made by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan from reclaimed laboratory tops. Cushions are hand sewn from kite fabric. The outdoor amphitheatre seating area built from scaffolding and scaffolding boards accessible by a ramp and surrounded by planting provides a lovely, contemplative, sheltered place of respite for commuters and visitors to Greenwich and several times a week plays host to storytelling, poetry reading and acoustic performances. When the cafe is deconstructed this May 2013 Myerscough are finding new homes for the materials used. One use will be cladding a primary school out building.


more projects by this designer