British artist Morag Myerscough has created a colorful cafe pavilion to improve the wellbeing of office workers in a revamped office building in London’s Broadgate. Myerscough’s Atoll installation forms the centerpiece of a newly created public space within 1 Finsbury Avenue Square (1 FA), which was recently refurbished by local architecture firm, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.
Atoll is envisaged as a beacon that will encourage the public to use the newly opened route connecting the surrounding neighborhood to the Broadgate campus, making a formerly corporate space accessible to all. The semi-open nature of the interior also means that workers on the mezzanine levels can look down at the verdant planting within the structure.
Myerscough’s inspiration for Atoll comes from her own connections with London, having lived here all her life, and the biophilia hypothesis – the idea that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Myerscough’s many public projects have drawn inspiration from how color and nature help to improve wellbeing.
“My fascination with how the Victorians made public parks for city workers to get fresh air at weekends (as a child I lived very close to Finsbury Park) has inspired me to bring the park to the workplace at 1FA,” explains Myerscoughs.
The lower level is occupied by a café, run by Butterscotch Bakery, whilst the upper level of the Atoll incorporates the outline of three London terraced houses, surrounded by dense planting and completed with six neon suns signifying joy and energy. The houses make reference to Broadgate’s residential history, introducing a sense of intimacy and domesticity to the space.
At the public entry lobbies on the eastern and western sides of the building, Myerscough has incorporated Tri-wall advertising boards, animating three patterns. The concept, which was also successfully executed by Myerscough in her scheme for the Design Museum’s ‘Designer Maker User’ permanent exhibition, provides a warm welcome to visitors. The rotating Tri-wall format also gives a nod to the building’s 1980s heritage, further celebrating the era of Broadgate’s inception whilst looking to the future.
The installation continues to spread through the whole of the atrium with large-scale patterned hand-painted walls. An expansive seating area with hand-made and hand-painted overstuffed velvet cushioned seating, tables, benches and planters, designed and made by Myerscough and Luke Morgan at their local Hoxton studio. A rear translucent screen is covered in plants held within a bespoke metal planting grid designed and fabricated by Morgan.
The materiality of the permanent installation is as important as narrative, with bespoke ceramic tiles and FSC-rated marine ply. Morag spent months developing the tiling, mixing Victorian references with her own signature colors and 3-D/optical patterns. The vibrant patterns contrast with 1FA’s symmetricality, dark bronze anodized cladding, and black-painted exposed interior structure.