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

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

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.

The rooftop carpark is an attraction for Londoners

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 steel work. This palette in turn contrasts with artist Simon Whybray’s nearby pink stair cases – 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.

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