An east London cafe by Mizzi Studio combines new and traditional building techniques

Architecture • Views: 125

Colicci Cafe by Mizzi Studio occupies a prominent site in Chesnut Plaza at the entrance to Westfied Stratford City shopping centre in East London. Inspired by the form of a wind-blown leaf, the building’s undulating copper roof appears to float in mid-air and is surrounded on four sides by frameless, full-height glazing. Sliding-folding glass doors on the front elevation allow the kiosk to be opened up to the surrounding plaza in clement weather.

Copper was chosen to give the design a warm, earthy aesthetic and close connection to nature’, writes Mizzi Studio. The challenge was to create a free-flowing, three-dimensional sculptural form out of relatively small, flat metal sheets. We chose to adapt traditional eighteenth-century copper sheathing techniques using fibreglass and computer aided design and manufacturing techniques. Using 3D modelling, the contoured roof and scalloped ceiling were rationalised and subdivided into a series of ‘tiles’ that could be manually installed on site. The result was a bespoke jigsaw of 542 individually numbered pieces, which were unfolded and ‘nested’ into CAD files for CNC laser-cutting the copper sheets.

Traditional hand crafting techniques were used to shape the copper tiles over the roof’s fibreglass shell. The latter was fixed to and supported by a steel frame. The individual pieces were hand bent, hammered and secured with a pneumatic handgun using around 20,000 rivets. The copper is sealed with a matt clear lacquer to preserve its lustre and reflective properties.