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Migrateful kitchen

After years holding temporary pop-ups in spaces all over London and the South East, Migrateful was looking for a permanent home. When the U.K. charity (which has been offering culinary training to and classes led by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants since 2017) found a former classroom in a community centre in leafy Clerkenwell, it turned to London architecture practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) for a hand in developing its new Migrateful Kitchen.

Having hosted the charity in its own offices before, the firm didn’t hesitate and, in fact, offered to do the work pro bono. “It’s hard for people to get involved in a meaningful way with refugees and the refugee crisis,” says AHMM associate Dermot Reynolds, whose team also managed to get several suppliers on board to provide products for free. Construction was done at cost.

People cooking in the Migrateful kitchen
The 12 mobile workstations in AHMM’s Migrateful Kitchen are sized to be used by two people each, accommodating classes of up to 24 students.

Now a cookery, teaching and hosting space, the room was a bit “unloved” when they first found it, says Reynolds. It did, however, have two light wells and several transom-style windows that brought in some light (but no views). Also, it was wrapped in attractive and warm plywood panelling that the architects kept and added to with additional plywood storage units and workbenches. The first thing the architects did was knock out space for a large glazed door to establish a dedicated entrance for the organization and to open views inside and out, creating a welcoming street presence within the purpose-built community building.

Dining area at Migrateful kitchen

Inside, the focal point is a large kitchen workbench and 12 mobile cooking stations (two of which are wheelchair accessible) that can be moved out of the way for events. Once the cooking classes have finished, attendees and tutors can sit down at two large handmade silver maple tables at one end of the room to talk and share the food they have prepared.

These tables rest on what is the undeniable showstopper of the project: a graphically tiled surface inspired by traditional rugs from the Middle East and North Africa. Divided into two zones — red, black and orange in one and blue, white and red in the other — the geometric patterns are part of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s vivid Mattonelle Margherita glazed porcelain collection for Mutina (donated by Domus Tiles).

Close-up of kitchen backsplash showing colourful tiles inspired by Middle Eastern and North African motifs
Bold blue lower cabinets are topped with a graphic tile backsplash, whose pattern was influenced by traditional Middle Eastern and North African motifs.

The same combinations are replicated on the kitchen backsplashes, providing colour and a sense of celebration and warmth. A strip of tiles featuring thin black and white lines at the end of the dining area represents “the end of the rug,” Reynolds explains. It’s a thoughtful touch to what is a thoughtful and, despite a modest budget, very rich space — one that makes you happy just being in it.

In London, A Welcoming Community Kitchen for Refugees

London’s AHMM delivers a cheerful and nourishing new kitchen space for local charity Migrateful.

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