Transit and LOT studios fuse lively contemporary and heritage elements at RA Café in London

Transit and LOT studios fuse lively contemporary and heritage elements at RA Café in London

  • Array Tereza

  • 3 weeks ago

To mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Transit Studio teamed up with LOT Studio to redesign the RA Café, a lobby space and courtyard bar at this magnificent building.

“Using a palette of materials that referenced the murals that dominate the space, particularly the colours from Leonard Rosoman’s Upstairs and Downstairs, we created a lighter and brighter all day café experience. It was a really exciting brief to reimagine what the RA Café, lobby and courtyard bar could be, taking inspiration from the heritage of the RA as a site of art display and production, as part of their significant expansion and refurbishment. We wanted to create something lively and colourful that referenced the wide variety of arts on show and produced at the RA. The brief was to create a welcoming and bright space for all to enjoy and to solve the long queues that form during exhibition lunch hours. By offering a market stall ‘island counter’ approach we created an organic customer flow, making it just as easy to grab a coffee and cake as it is to pick up a three-course meal. We enjoyed working with a bold mix of colour and texture to create a playful environment which captures the spirit of the Royal Academy and references the impressive murals that adorn the walls. Bespoke communal dining tables and ledges create a unified design language across the café and inspire interactions between guests, while a ten-seat table in the lobby – comprised of terrazzo and marble with a circular pattern – can be used for large groups or solo diners. Individual island counters have been used to suggest an indoor market, with canopies overhead and illuminated signage, helping with wayfinding. The lighting has been greatly improved, including LEDs in ceiling coffers, minimal globe lights, up lights highlighting window details and small colourful table lamps dotted around the café. In the Royal Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard, a vibrant and playful mix of bright colours and materials appropriate for the summer have been used. A new cafe kiosk is clad in blue mirror stainless steel and reflects the historic surroundings as well as the ever-changing central sculpture. Splatter enamel table tops reference the activity that takes place within the RA Schools,” explained Ben Masterton-Smith, Director at Transit Studio and Charlotte McCarthy, Director at LOT

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Impressive murals
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Banquette seating
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Bar
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Detail
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Counter islands
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Ten-seat table in the lobby
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Exterior
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Floor plan