Reed Watts Architects have recently completed their third and largest project at the V&A, a new café and pergola structure in the John Madejski Garden. Going from conception to completion in less than four months, the elegant steel structure defines a new space for seating in the museum and provides a dual-fronted café counter for Benugo, the museum’s café operator. The V&A in South Kensington hosts over 4m visitors every year and its main café enjoys an outstanding reputation as one of the most beautiful in London. The brief for Reed Watts was to deliver a café in the Madejski Garden that would be met with a similar reception, replacing an existing structure that was no longer fit for purpose. Inspired by the traditional garden pergola and taking the rhythm of the existing building as a starting point, the structure was designed so that it would sit lightly within the garden, without interrupting views of the courtyard itself. Visible ‘in the round’ from within the museum as well as the garden, the new counter had to look attractive and accessible from all directions. To achieve this, Reed Watts proposed a dual-fronted counter that provides more space for display and sales than was previously possible, improving efficiency for customers and sales for the client.
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