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Emerging AHMM star wins Croydon café contest


An up-and-coming architect at AHMM has been chosen to design a new café in Croydon’s Queen’s Gardens park

Dora Felekou’s concept was chosen ahead of submissions from four other teams following an in-house competition at AHMM which was only open to the AJ100 big hitter’s younger design talent.

The contest was organised by developer HUB, which is delivering the community café and a revamp of the park. The project is part of the wider AHMM-led Taberner House scheme on the site of Croydon Council’s former HQ next door.

The brief was developed with the help of local stakeholders at community design workshops with the shortlisted architects then invited to attend a presentation session with residents and park users before a final winner was chosen.

HUB described Felekou’s design, House of Cards, as a worthy winner which ’reflected what local people want’. 

Felekou, who has only been at AHMM for just over a year, explained her concept, saying: ‘The structural elements of House of Cards all bear different colour treatments that are inspired by Croydon’s street art and are also a symbol of the diverse local community. Two levels of the café have different goals: the café is the centre of activity whereas the belvedere is a beacon, attracting attention to what is happening below.

‘The past and present of the café are combined in a shimmering façade, uniting the café with the gardens. The café’s design is adaptable; it grows with the residents, changing and always versatile, it becomes the centre of their collective memories.”

HUB managing director Steve Sanham said: ‘We have worked very closely with the community in a collaborative design process to produce a briefing for a café that people in Croydon will really enjoy. We know that the gardens are a much-loved space so it is vital that the design reflects what local people want. Being able to tap into the passion and creativity of designers who are early on in their career, to help develop the plans has been very rewarding.’

The scheme will replace a dilapidated toilet block in the corner of the park and provide access up to Fell Road.

Work is expected to start on site next year and finish in 2020.

Project data

Location The Queen’s Gardens, Croydon
Type of project Cafe
Client HUB
Architect AHMM
Landscape architect Grant Associates
Planning consultant Gerald Eve
Structural engineer Whitby Wood Engineers
M&E consultant David Stillman Associates
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
CDM adviser David M. Eagle
Lighting consultant Pritchard Themis
Main contractor n/a
Funding n/a
Tender date n/a
Start on site date: 2019
Completion date: 2020
Contract duration n/a
Gross internal floor area 95m2
Total cost: n/a


  • House of Cards by Dora Felekou, architect
  • A Muse Among The Motors by Tahmineh Hooshyar Emami, Joanne Chen and Ka Man Leung
  • Debussy by Irene Vera Crego
  • Queen’s Gardens Café Pavilion by Elisa Pardini
  • Some ideas for a new café in Croydon by James O’Neill and Ninian MacQueen



Readers' comments (2)

  • Phil Parker

    Competition for AHMM’s employees? I like the winning scheme but were there any non AHMM entrants?

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  • Why should there be? It's not as if AHMM are the master planners, with other architects designing different elements; AHMM are the architects appointed by the developers of the site - but surely there's a case to be made in a situation like this where a project involves 'minor works' as well as the main building for the small stuff to be farmed out for properly open competition by young architects, as a way to encourage new talent as widely as possible.

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