Brixton’s storied Le Bon Marché complex is now home to restaurant and hot desking space Canova Hall – which offers pizza and cocktails in historic surrounds.
Canova Hall was originally designed as a canteen and social space for the employees of the illustrious department store – Britain’s first – which opened in 1877, and was modelled on the store of the same name in Paris. Design practice Red Deer has given the building a sensitive restoration that pays homage to its past, visible through peeling plaster and salvaged basins.
‘The space is where the staff had their canteen, so to a large degree we wanted to nod to that use in the design,’ says the studio’s Lionel Real De Azua, who borrowed visual cues from markets for its interiors.
He adds: ‘The fenestration is new, but designed to echo the Art Deco history of the building while the walls were stripped back to their original raw state, including the concrete beamed ceiling. The most pleasant surprise was discovering original intact green terrazzo with a beige border.’
Dining spaces feature utilitarian white tiles, wooden bench seating, and an open market stall-style kitchen which has been raised up to allow guests to peer in.
A curved island bar also displays an antique ice box, sourced in Argentina, which has been converted into a home for the restaurant’s craft beer collection.
Colours are limited, with wood, marble and metal taking centre stage, and complimented by muted green details incorporated throughout.
“Green, especially painted up to dado height, was typical of industrial and utilitarian spaces,’ adds the designer. ‘Canova Hall heralds back to a market bar and as such picked up this colour palette.’
During the day, freelancers can hot desk in Canova Hall, and in the evening it turns into a cocktail bar. For adventurous drinkers, trolleys will offer everything needed for patrons to create their own drinks – or a bartender can mix drinks at the table.
Canova Hall is the latest addition to the Le Bon Marché complex in Brixton. Architecture practice Squire & Partners recently restored an annex of the building as their new HQ, (take a tour here) and record store Pure Vinyl has also moved in.
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