Galaxy quest: Cooke Fawcett Architects make Peckham Observatory a star attraction

Top level of a carpark, with a man looking over the wall to the city beyond
Cooke Fawcett Architects has designed a viewing platform as part of the Bold Tendencies programme. Photography: Peter Landers
(Image credit: Peter Landers)

There is yet another reason to walk up the seven flights of stairs of a defunct car park in Peckham. The latest architectural commission by its highly-acclaimed resident cultural body is revealed. This time, Bold Tendencies has tasked young practice Cooke Fawcett Architects with creating a big viewing platform and kiosk up one end of the top, open-air floor of the car park.

Called the Peckham Observatory, the 3.5m-wide platform of hardwood timber decking attached to a locally-made steel structure is accessed by steps and a bleacher seating system.

At 3.5m above the car park, visitors have increased views on to sunsets over central London and on to Bold Tendencies’ other al fresco delights: Practice Architecture’s crowd-pleasing Frank’s Café, the Derek Jarman corner garden, and installations by artists including Isaac Olvera and Richard Wentworth.

Aerial shot of the Observatory surrounded by the city

The rooftop carpark is an attraction for Londoners

(Image credit: TBC)

As well as adding aesthetically to a quieter end of the site, the platform has a functional role to play. It shelters concert-goers when they collect their tickets from the kiosk, positioned beneath it. The architects Oliver Cooke and Francis Fawcett have painted this simple, timber-framed box dark blue, to complement the green paint of the steelwork. This palette in turn contrasts with artist Simon Whybray’s nearby pink staircases – another Bold Tendencies commission.

Fawcett and Cooke founded their eponymous London firm in 2015, having worked together at Stirling Prize-winning outfit Herzog & de Meuron. This Bold Tendencies commission follows their acoustic Concert Wall for The Multi-Story Orchestra, which has a summer-long residency on a lower level of the car park.

This is the 11th year that Bold Tendencies’ Hannah Barry has amassed site-specific cultural events here. She is now considering commissioning an architecture piece for the car park’s lower levels, to make more of those areas. ‘We are interested in the ways people gather together,’ she says.

A viewing platform constructed of green steel

The observatory is located on the roof of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, London. Photography: Peter Landers

(Image credit: Peter Landers)

Wooden concertina wall

Cooke Fawcett Architects also designed a concert wall for an orchestra to play in front of. Photography: Peter Landers

(Image credit: Peter Landers)

Wooden concertina wall located at the back of a carpark

The concert wall is located within the multi-storey car park. Photography: Peter Landers

(Image credit: Peter Landers)

Cafe with picnic tables beneath a red canopy

Frank’s Café is designed by Practice Architecture. Photography: Richard Bryant

(Image credit: Richard Bryant)

Red canopy over wooden picnic tables

The red canopy of Frank’s, which opens in London during the summer months. Photography: Richard Bryant

(Image credit: Richard Bryant)

Left: wooden struts anchoring the red cables for the canopy. Right: the red canopy

Architectural details of Practice Architecture’s Frank’s pavilion and structure. Photography: Richard Bryant

(Image credit: Richard Bryant)

Straw-lined interior space for performances

The warm interiors of Practice Architecture's Straw Auditorium where performances and events take place. Photography: Damian Griffiths

(Image credit: Damien Griffiths)

Exterior of the circular straw performance area

The exterior of the Straw Auditorium, built on the eighth floor of the multi-storey carpark. Photography: Damian Griffiths

(Image credit: Damian Griffiths)


For more information, visit the Bold Tendencies website and the Cooke Fawcett Architects website


Bold Tendencies
95a Rye Lane
London SE15 4TG


Clare Dowdy is a London-based freelance design and architecture journalist who has written for titles including Wallpaper*, BBC, Monocle and the Financial Times. She’s the author of ‘Made In London: From Workshops to Factories’ and co-author of ‘Made in Ibiza: A Journey into the Creative Heart of the White Island’.