The Vinyl Canteen
At the Vinyl Canteen food isn’t simply food – it’s a sign of what’s ahead. Before the first stages of masterplanning are even complete, Cathedral and Development Securities have been investing in the site, redesigning the Shipping Building’s reception and building a new canteen both to serve the 500 people who work here every day and to plant a stake in the ground that shows a vision for the future of the Old Vinyl Factory.
Open, airy, bright and bold, The Vinyl Canteen was designed by Morag Myerscough with furniture designed and made specifically for the canteen by her and artist Luke Morgan. Together they commissioned The Wood Recycling Project in Brighton (a tenant in another Cathedral development) to supply the wooden tops for a series of long, inviting tables and benches, fashioned from reclaimed beams and designed to encourage people to share a coffee, lunch and conversation.
As Claire Pritchard, in charge of setting up the kitchen, explains, “A canteen is the heart of a building.” Director of the groundbreaking social enterprise Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency, she says, “A canteen is a magnet in a building like this for community, cohesion and relationship building.” In these places you need to serve food that people want to eat. Food that people might linger over. The GCDA has campaigned to get people to eat locally and sustainably for more than a decade. As a social enterprise they’ve worked behind the scenes with numerous groups to bring good food to the public, but the Canteen is GCDA’s first restaurant of their own. And the results? Lasagne made from local beef, vegetables from a farm four miles down the road and ham sandwiches made from gammon that they roast themselves each day. Claire is planning on building raised beds on site to grow her own produce – even musing about having chickens there. “We want this to be a place for people sitting together and sharing,” she says and adds, “I love the idea of having hens outside running around. You can’t get more local than that. And, imagine the conversation starter.”