Cadogan Cafe

Space Group Architects have teamed up with Measur, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Waterman Building Services and the renowned artist Michael Kienzer to propose the new Cadogan Café on the Duke of York Square adjacent to the Saatchi Gallery.


The scheme maintains the existing landscape design which consists of fragmented concrete elements in the shape of floor inserts and benches. The dynamic/distorted grid informs the outlines of the new café. – A tense network of energetic lines is the basis of the setting out of screens of various heights, an under-ground amphitheatre, sliding glass doors, a facetted roof scape and even the tables.


The key intervention consists of glass screens which contain a ‘fluid’ metal that can be electro-magnetically controlled. Double glazed units have another glass unit attached to them with a small gap in between. The detachable glass pane is equipped with electro-magnetic sensors. The cavity is filled with a Ferro-fluid. The fluids flow is then controlled via an interlinked computer system which enables the creation of exciting animations and images. By doing so the transparency and the colours change as well. The emerging colours vary from pale brown to almost black – just like different kinds of coffee. From running images to pulsating patterns, from dark sparkling pictures to pale transparent veils – the possibilities are limited by one’s own imagination. It is here where artists, perhaps in collaboration with the adjacent Saatchi Gallery, are invited to come up with ever new ideas. It will be Michael Kienzer’s turn to start with. Other artists and even members of the public are subsequently invited to re-programme the screens allowing the fragmented envelope of the café to be constantly transformed. Just like the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square or the light-animated external skin of Peter Cook’s and Colin Fournier’s Kunsthaus is Graz they become a piece of art within the public realm that can be changed. They can also be lit in the evening adding animation to the otherwise rather dark and underused square at night times.  


Client: Cadogan Estate


Competition Organizer: Malcolm Reading Consultants


Quantity Surveyor: Measur


Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan


Services Engineer: Waterman Building Services


Artist: Michael Kienzer

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