Spotlight Youth Space & Cafe

Location: Tower Hamlets, London
Type: Community & Youth Space
Client: Spotlight / Poplar HARCA
Collaborators: EJ Ryder
Duration: 2017-2018
Status: Completed

Spotlight is a leading youth arts organisation based in a purpose-built centre in Poplar, established to provide creative and engaging ways to empower and inspire young people. Okra were invited to explore how an underutilised ground floor space could be brought back to life as a multi-use room: a youth space, café and place for the local community.

Read More

Okra spent a number of days at the centre with the Spotlight team to better understand how the space was used, how to utilise the strong brand identity and establish where design could play a part. We conducted a series of engagement and co-design sessions with the young people and staff, testing ideas from materiality and colour through to programme and activity concepts.

The outcome is a series of playful interventions in a space within which young people feel ownership and agency. Areas are defined with soft boundaries and visual cues, using floor painting and metal framed structures to retain a sense of openness. A series of adaptable furniture items, such as moveable dividers and a meeting-dining table which transforms into a table tennis table, give the space the flexibility to host a number of activities.

Many of the installations are bespoke items created specifically for the space. We researched cost-effective materials and prototyped various elements of the design, testing these with users at Spotlight. By working closely with a local fabrication studio and utilising methods such as CNC production, we were able to ensure delivery to a tight budget.