Royal College of Art Student Union Cafe
by Weston Surman & Deane

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Three Royal College of Art architecture graduates have used stripped scaffolding boards and reclaimed parquet flooring to create a wooden cafe at the school's Battersea campus in south London (+ slideshow).

Tom Surman, Joseph Deane and Percy Weston were approached shortly after graduating to upgrade the tuck shop at one of the RCA's old buildings, which was too small to accommodate the extra students brought by the recent opening of the Dyson Building for photography and print-making.

They instead moved the cafe to a former seminar room, where they tore down the existing suspended ceiling and constructed a wooden framework around the walls.

"The cafe is conceived as a playful timber box inside a large concrete and steel shell," Surman told Dezeen. "We made the entire structure from ripped-down scaffolding boards and we refined them until they were almost unrecognisable."

The designers laid the reclaimed parquet flooring by hand and sanded it down to remove most but not all of the leftover markings. "The nice thing about having an incredibly tight budget was we learnt to do stuff with our hands," said Surman.

The cafe counter is separated behind another wall of wood, while the dining area is furnished with mismatched classroom chairs and wooden tables.

"It's a very playful project, intended to reflect the slightly obscure nature of the sculpture department next door," added Surman. "In this building, anything too precious starts to look terrible after a couple of weeks."

The team designed and installed the entire project in just three months and have since launched their own studio named Weston Surman & Deane.

The Royal College of Art's main building is located in South Kensington, but the school has been gradually expanding its Battersea campus in recent years with the opening of the Dyson Building and the Sackler Building that houses the painting department.

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  • Thomas

    Is that Jack Whitehall in the second pic?

  • Will Hunter

    Well done Percy, Tom and Joe. Project looks stunning. A great gambit to your career in practice!

  • andi

    They’ve got so much money at the RCA. Why do they have to get along with such a cheap and, IMHO, ugly cafe? The floor is the best thing.

    • pepe

      Cheap is chic, don’t you know?

  • Nur

    It looks great. Congratulations.