Befriending Kitchen

Merrett Houmøller Architects, London, 2017

 

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Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects 

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  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects - Section in use    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects - Section Packed Away    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects - Elevation (doors not shown)    
  • Befriending Kitchen for the British Red Cross by Merrett Houmøller Architects - Plan Packed Away    

Befriending Kitchen by Merrett Houmøller Architects is a creative and collaborative mobile kitchen for the British Red Cross' Refugees and Befriending Project

Merrett Houmøller Architects’ Befriending Kitchen is the winning result of an RIBA competition on the theme of borders. The practice approached the British Red Cross to be their client, with the intention of designing a flexible kitchen and dining facilities for its Refugees and Befriending Project (a programme that brings together vulnerable young asylum seekers).

Merrett Houmøller’s concept addressed the competition brief by addressing the shared tensions and aspirations of refugees with a design that encourages the universal familiarity of sharing a meal. Against an extremely tight budget and timescale, they have created a creative and collaborative mobile base to replace the project’s existing facilities, an uninspiring office space with a rice cooker and a steamer.

The result is a de-mountable module that comprises two colourful timber kitchen units and compactable communal tables and benches. Once expanded, the kitchen units mirror one another on opposite ends to enclose the informal dining area. Seating for up to 30 people is provided and a canvas canopy is available to stretch from the unit ends for shade and protection from rain.

Hand-painted with yellow, blue and pink geometric designs, each unit has panel windows that fold up to reveal a gas hob, food prep sink and workshop station/ serving area. When open, the windows create a sheltering overhang above the preparation areas.

Four tables and eight benches can be packed away into tall vertical cupboards in each base module. These units can be secured together when not in use, and are each set on wheels for moving to various sites.

The Befriending Kitchen was launched on the terrace of the RIBA’s London headquarters in July 2017. Here, Merrett Houmøller’s kitchen hosted several groups of young refugees for lunch and design reviews, but has since been handed over to The British Red Cross Young Refugee groups to provide new opportunities for bringing people together over meals.

Over the course of the project, the architects worked closely with project coordinators from The British Red Cross’ Refugees and Befriending programme and the RIBA’s Young People’s Forum. They held design participation workshops and exchanged sketches and drawings with the stakeholders. The RIBA’s Young People’s Forum (YPF) specifically helped develop the bright graphic exterior design for the unit and its furniture. Playing with the idea of language and universal familiarity, the group was inspired by the international system of nautical signal flags, originally devised to overcome language barriers. The YPF even helped paint templates onto the kitchen façade.

Data

  • Completed: Jul 2017
  • Floor area: 10m2
  • Sector: Civic
  • Total cost: £5,000
  • Funding: RIBA competition
  • Address: RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1NT, United Kingdom

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