A Cafe at Canvey Island

The Architect and Building News 1934

By Janet Penn

The following pictures, plans and article were published in 'The Architect and Building News' on the 16th February 1934. I do not think any of this has been seen before. It gives lots of information about the design and structure which I have found very interesting.

Photo:Front elevation facing the river. White cement finish. The kiosks and benches were not included in the original design.

Front elevation facing the river. White cement finish. The kiosks and benches were not included in the original design.

A Cafe at Canvey Island  

This attractive concrete struc­ture consists of a main circu­lar building housing the cafe, kitchen and lavatories, with two wings forming shelters, the whole being situated along the river bank at Labworth Park. Owing to the marshy nature and low bearing capa­city of the soil it was necessary to carry the whole structure on piles. No. 19 precast reinforced concrete piles were used for this purpose, eight being driven under the circular portion and eleven under the wings forming the shelter.

On a level with the shelter floor and under the cafe floor proper are situated the kitchen and lavatories, access to the latter being provided by a short circular cantilever gangway leading directly from the shelter. The kitchen and lavatories are divided by a wide stair­case leading from the entrance porch to the cafe floor.

Photo:Ground and first floor plans: showing the circular counter with stools in the café on the first floor. Note method of draining water from flat roof by means of supporting piers.

Ground and first floor plans: showing the circular counter with stools in the café on the first floor. Note method of draining water from flat roof by means of supporting piers.

The stairwell on the cafe floor is surrounded (except for the entrance) by a circular table which also encloses a lift serving the cafe from the kitchen below. The circular cafe floor, 40 ft. 6 in. in diameter, is cantilevered out 6 ft. 3 in. from the wall of the kitchen below. Equally disposed on a circle of 27 ft. diameter are situated No. 6 reinforced con­crete columns, llin. diameter, con­structed hollow with pipes which serve as flue from kitchen, ventilator to lavatories, and rainwater pipes.

Photo:The side view of the café. The circular window completely encloses the café.

The side view of the café. The circular window completely encloses the café.

The circular roof is cantilevered from a circular beam supported from the hollow columns and laid with a slight fall towards the beam over which is formed a shallow gutter which leads the rainwater to the hollow columns. The lower part of the roof circular beam projects hori­zontally in section on each side to form hidden electric light channels, all lighting in the cafe thus being re­flected from the ceiling.

A feature of the design is the cir­cular window which completely en­closes the cafe, giving an uninter­rupted view over the river and over Labworth Park. Access is provided to roofs of the shelters by two doors leading from the cafe for the use of customers who prefer the open air.

Photo:Cross section showing use of precast piles on the unusual sloping site.

Cross section showing use of precast piles on the unusual sloping site.

The total length of the structure is 100 ft. With the exception of cast-iron columns at the porchway and those supporting the roofs of the shel­ters, the whole of the structure was designed in reinforced concrete.

The two kiosks and the seating benches are additions which were not included in the original design.

Christiani & Neilsen, Ltd., were responsible for the planning and re­inforced concrete design and calcula­tions, and D. G. Somerville & Co., Ltd., were the general contractors.

This page was added by Janet Penn on 19/05/2011.

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