Neil Hogan, Helen Hughes, Ashley Thompson, Adam Woodward
applemore college canteen
SHH redesigned the dining area of Applemore College, a Southampton secondary school, in close consultation with both The Sorrell Foundation and UK government body The School Food Trust, which seeks to improve the quality of school food, promote the health of children and young people and increase school meal take up by targeting problem areas.
The dining area had a series of complex issues. It was essentially a set of knocked-together spaces within a separated single-storey building, it lacked cohesiveness and atmosphere and was very unpopular with the pupils. The brief for the low-budget project was to create a sense of indoor greenery and some sheltered outdoor space, blurring the indoor/outdoor barriers. Dividing walls were to be translucent, increasing the sense of space and visibility; queue times were to come down and there should be better provision for litter and the use of sound-absorbing materials.
SHH’s design concept for this space was to make a virtue of the spareness of the space and create a semi-industrial graphic-led environment with a certain tough and streetwise atmosphere, softened by an ‘outside in’ policy with three of the new façades facing out onto the green grass.
The 4,000 sq ft interior has a relaxed cafeteria feel with zoned areas, some formal and some with looser low seating. Overhead hanging graphic panels help to absorb noise. Materials throughout are inspired by nature, with a yellow and green colourway.
A rationalised seating plan with value-engineered furniture is offset by a striking striped floor in 2m-wide stripes (in a non-slip durable vinyl), with an industrial look inspired by Manchester’s ground-breaking Haçienda club. An external shipping container provides cover for some extra external seating (sprayed green to add a visual link to the interior). Also outside, screeded-off concrete stools (formed from Milton concrete tubes filled with concrete and aggregate) feature an iconic belisha beacon at their centre.