That iconic red sail-like roof can only mean one thing. Frank’s cafe – the creation of Practice Architecture (Paloma Gormley, Lettice Drake, and Henry Stringer) – is once again open for the summer. It’s attracting hoards of trendy young things to Peckham to booze, feast, and take in the plethora of delights offered by Bold Tendencies on the roof of the multi-storey car park with unrivalled views of London’s skyline. We caught up with them to discuss how the project has developed this year.
It’s Nice That: So Practice Architecture have unveiled some additional structures to Frank’s for Bold Tendencies 5. What’s in store for visitors this summer?
When visitors arrive at the exhibition gates they’ll be greeted by a glowing block of posters inhabited by two gallery representatives. The posters, mounted in a collage of frames on a stud box, provide information about Bold Tendencies and other local galleries. Below Frank’s on level 7 is an auditorium, a straw bale womb, which will host a range of events from lectures to dance.
Tell us how you conceived the design, palette of materials and structure?
With Frank’s cafe we wanted to create a large covered area with minimal cost and minimal structure. The PVC roof is essentially a giant sail – we had images of it taking off over Peckham. The 12 40-metre-long ratchet straps that circumnavigate the top deck of the concrete car park lash the cafe’s structure to the building while supporting the roof. Using straps was the breakthrough with the design.
The poster welcome desk plays the role of a notice board – the kind seen in galleries that publicise other events and exhibitions. We wanted to format this information in a formalised clear way. We liked the idea of glowing paper, almost using the posters as a pattern. The dimensions of the structure and frames are based on standard paper sizes – A4 to A0 – we played around with different patterns and layouts. Each frame is screwed onto the stud box with wingnuts making it easy to change and update the posters.
The design for the auditorium was driven by a qualitative idea of the space we wanted to create. The lower levels of the carpark are hard and dark, we felt we needed to make somewhere warm and intimate. Straw bales were a last minute decision, it was initially going to be felt. We used conventional straw bale construction techniques, pinning the bales together with bamboo stakes – the structure is very simple.
Do you think Frank’s and the new structures will ever become a permanent fixture on the roof or is part of their charm their temporary nature?
The buildings we’ve created are with three months of summer in mind – the temporary and parasitic nature of their relationship with the car park is definitely central to their design.
Do you imagine it could evolve and be anything other than that infamous red roof?
We’ve rebuilt Frank’s with a slightly different structure this year, it’s bigger and the roof holds less water! I think we’re happy for Frank’s to remain fairly similar, and to divert our energy towards creating new designs in new places. If a new design were to inhabit the roof, we’d be excited by the idea of other people designing it.
Bold Tendencies runs until 30 September 2011