Grand Central is a new bar in Shoreditch, east London, designed by Block Architecture for Eric Yu of the Breakfast Group, which owns Opium and The Social, among other venues. The name Grand Central was chosen by the architect as a reference to the famous New York station, but it has a more direct application to the 5m-high ceiling of the bar, with its large windows which give the feel of a terminus or any other public space where there is continuous movement.
The ideas behind the design approach were suggested by the dynamic flow of traffic past the busy intersection where the bar is located - traffic lights, car movement, the stop-go jerkiness of all inner-city transport.
By bringing this imagery inside the bar, Block Architecture has been able to tap into the dynamism of the street and make a connection between the social energy of the bar interior and travel energy outside.
To represent this concept in design terms, Block Architecture drew on long-exposure night photography typified by the long streaks of bright colour left by passing traffic. This imagery was translated into design features in a number of ways. 'Lightstream' walls made from strips of live edge and coloured Perspex laminated together and back-lit, imitate the effect of the extruded light paths produced by the head and tail lights of passing cars. A lighting rig, which runs from the entry door through to the rear of the bar, accentuates the movement and flow of the lightwalls. The rig bears similarities to a circuit diagram in plan and was manufactured on site using galvanised steel conduiting and junction boxes. Each node has a downlight and red LED in a grid to develop the idea of traffic systems further.
Block Architecture also designed the furniture for Grand Central. This included resin table tops, WC sinks and urinals (lit from underneath), and wall-mounted light diffusers in the tiled interior of the 'subterranean'WC entrance space. The chairs in the central area of the bar are standard Robin Day polyprops modified to be made with perforated leather padded seats and seat backs and grey powder-coated legs. The chairs and stools on the upper levels were designed using the same perforated leather, which is again repeated on the upholstered booth seating on the raised levels.
Grand Central is an exciting and eclectic mix of disparate influences - the energy of New York in collision with the newly awakened buzz of Shoreditch. Certainly a venue for life in the fast lane.
CREDITS CLIENT The Breakfast Group ARCHITECT Block Architects:
Graeme Williamson, Zoë Smith, Malen Hult, Alex Bailey STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Price & Myers MAIN CONTRACTOR John Perkins Projects SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS furniture and light walls Oval Workshops; resin products Red Door Props;
signage Light Projects;
electrical/lights Wolf Electical Insulations;
chairs Hille; bar fittings Courtenay; bathroom taps Marklab/Armitage Shanks