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Studio East by Carmody Groarke

Lucy Bullivant visits the Rolls Royce of pop-ups created by an award-winning architectural duo.

Studio East by Carmody Groarke


July 14th, 2010

By night this summer in London a glowing structure could be seen on the skyline of east London, its walls revealing shadows and silhouettes of the events within.

Not an Olympic building ready before time, but architects Carmody Groarke’s striking pop-up pavilion hosting Studio East Dining, a restaurant run by Bistrotheque, the popular East End dining establishment.

studio east dining london

Built 35 metres above the ground on the live construction site of Westfield, the Stratford City retail development, the pavilion offered rare views across London’s Olympic Stadium, and Zaha Hadid’s 2012 Aquatics Centre.

2000 diners got to sample the 800m2 structure during June for a three week period, relieved that they were not sitting in a standard, wedding marquee tent. 

studio east dining london

With just A$207,000 to play with, the architects opted for a fast build made of 70 tonnes of hired materials borrowed from the existing construction site – scaffolding boards and poles assembled by the site scaffolders, and reclaimed timber used to create the walls and floors. 

The cladding material encasing the roof was a semi-translucent membrane using fully recyclable, heat retractable polyethylene. Like all the other materials, it was returned to the site afterwards. 

studio east dining london

‘We instinctively felt that the structure should be built from everyday materials found around the site, be very design-led and live up to the stunning views’, said Pablo Flack, co-owner of Bistrotheque. ‘This is the Rolls Royce of pop-ups!’.

He discovered Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke last year when he visited Carsten Höller’s The Double Club on which they collaborated.

The Anglo-Australian duo (Carmody trained in Melbourne), who established their practice in London in 2006, and won UK Young Architects of the Year in 2007, were also responsible for The Skywalk, a three day events pavilion outside The British Museum for the 2008 London Festival of Architecture.

studio east dining london

They were recently awarded a RIBA London Award for their 7 July Memorial in Hyde Park.

A structure visible from all sides, Studio East had no front or back, like a solitaire, and its external balconies framed the views.

The flying roofs tilted towards the scenery, creating interlocking ceilings above seven spaces radiating from the central dining area towards each transparent section in the building’s envelope. This room pattern was in turn reflected in the herringbone lines of floorboard.

studio east dining london

Up to 120 diners in one sitting could be catered for in the space lined simply in scaffolding planks proportioned to the scale of each of the communal dining tables.

Studio East is over now, but when the Westfield Stratford City project – the largest shopping centre in Europe – opens next year, there will be 50 restaurants, bars and cafes.

More experimental ‘pop-ups’ you can eat in look set appear elsewhere in the city soon. Watch this space.

Carmody Groarke

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