Egan's Coffee Bar & Roof TerraceEdit profile
Architects Description When we hear the word contextualism we tend to have a fairly secure sense of what it means. Things need to ‘fit in’ and they do this by imitating what they are fitting in with. Just as much, they do so by conforming to a by-now generalised sense of what ‘contextual architecture’ should look like: faintly vernacular, perhaps with classicising elements, and small scale (the idea of a large-scale contemporary contextualism still sounds – irrespective of actual context – like a contradiction in terms). Much of this work is of little value and can sometimes take truly bizarre forms: yet ostensibly it is successful (for one thing its rules are enshrined in planning legislation) and we acknowledge it, mindful of the inattention to the texture of the city and the arrogance of what it displaced. It seems however that there is another approach – or series of approaches – that might equally be described as contextual, but that offer a non-mimetic, radicalised, and reconfigured sense of that term. These approaches would look for different clues, different ways of understanding a place, drawing upon architectural possibilities that are presented by it, but that are not restricted to valorised historical images or morphologies: an approach that displaces architectural attention away from what – up until then – had seemed its natural and self-evident objects, and uncovers new opportunities out of the inevitable complexity of existing material configurations. The nature of the work was to establish the relationship between differing programmatic requirements; a juice & coffee shop at ground floor level, a roof terrace & bar an existing nightclub on the rear upper level. These works were considered as a new insertion grafted to an existing protected structure (formerly a barber's shop on the ground floor) with a preserved shop front to Main Street. The main works area is entered through a cranked passage – treated almost like a geological cleft – that opens out into a small light well. At this point the abrasive perforated steel sheet that impassively lines the passage gives way to a tall, fine-faced concrete screen, braced against an existing high stone wall. This catches light beautifully, and directs attention toward the thin slot of sky above. From here a concrete stair – integral with the screen – rises up to an external terrace that is oversailed by a folded concrete plate, extending outward from the adjacent interior bar area. The bar is treated as a zone of shuddering compaction, the compression heightening the attenuated, gestural quality of the concrete plate as it stretches outward over the terrace beyond. Below the upstairs bar on street level is a finely detailed café area – long and thin and arranged in a wry reference to the barber’s shop that previously occupied the space. The cast concrete table-top and surfaces register the continuity with the remodelled zones above and behind, and provoke an appreciation of the intricate pas de deux that this architecture performs with the existing building fabric. The mirror of the café serves to "echo" the previous use of the space a barber's shop while doubling the space visually. The stainless steel sign, a glimpse of the new mesh in the alleyway (concealing the services for juice bar & night club) act as the only evidence externally of the new cast inserted elements. Meeting the Principles of Inclusive Design Given the demands to provide access to the public to the building, it was particularly important that entry was achieved without compromise. Primarily, it was considered that the design of the serving counters and tables would provide adequate and sufficient comfort for all patrons of the building. In doing so, it provided a place that is inhabited by all members of the community; young and old. Particular emphasis was placed on the contrasting surfaces of service area and public accessible areas, where a distinction in texture and colour was provided in these spaces which was also an integral element of the architecture itself. Additional lighting strips along the perimeter of the juice bar as well as the lighting over the serving all contribute to the quality of the indirect light that is provided which allows servicing to be achieved quite easily. As a conservation project and given the adjacent restaurant and bar facilities, it was deemed necessary to provide services areas within the existing building. Between both areas we have provided level access through the newly formed alleyway along with emergency and casual lighting for users. The roof terrace has been provided with fully non-slip surfaces with the heat exchange system actively countering risk of frost or ice forming on these surfaces. Building’s Performance & Sustainability Chill Out Area Heat recovery system – This system takes fresh air from the external terrace area and circulates it into the chill out area and existing nightclub. In return the patio heat system will utilize hot air at high level in the existing nightclub and chill out area reheat and discharge it across patio area thus achieving cost savings and energy efficiency when heating the patio this would also double as a heat curtain at the patio doors due to its position. Lighting – Low level LED lighting is used throughout the internal chill out area. In the external patio area external LED lighting is used to light up the underside of the canopy. The LED’s act as task lighting picking up key features of the areas and also emitting a low level light enhancing the atmosphere of the chill out area. Glazing – Low e glazing was used as the rainscreen between the external patio and internal chill out area. The low E glazing allows most natural light to enter freely but absorbs a significant portion of short wave heat energy. In the summer, long wave heat energy radiating from objects is reflected back outside lowering cooling cost. In winter, internal long-wave heat energy is reflected back inside, lowing heating cost, thus delivering energy and money saving rainscreen.