project name

CLIENT Curatus Trust Management, Squint Opera
SIZE 150 m2
YEAR 2011

The Doodle Bar is a space where people have the freedom to enjoy a good scribble, have a drink and hook up with some fellow doodlers.  It welcomes all idle hands to their space - originally on the site of Testbed1 on the banks of the Thames, which retained the industrial charm of its former life as a Victorian dairy and tile emporium.  

The bar at Battersea was set against the backdrop of TESTBED1 - a dramatic and versatile arts and events space for creative innovation, ideas and experimentation. The Doodle Bar was conceived by illustrator Serge Seidlitz and film maker Jules Coke, residents of the offices above testbed. A series of one-off parties in 2009 led to Will Alsop and Russell Bagley being enlisted over a glass of wine to preserve the warehouse feel as a permanent bar.

Alsop proposed to sandblast back the ceramic brickwork to its former beauty and install a long bar made from reclaimed teak boat hulls. The existing terrazzo floor was also stripped back to leave the space feeling decidedly industrial. Bagley installed some steel cage lights on poles to complete the look and provide an atmospheric dimness to the space.

The brief asked to design the acoustics inside the bar to limit noise leaking outside. aLL Design developed unique scaffolding planks with acoustic foam on top, which look like artwork and add to the bar's atmosphere instead of detracting from it. The most recent addition to the bar was a beach facing onto the neighbouring dock and offering customers space to enjoy a drink outside in the sun.

The bar proved to be a huge success, quickly adopted by the neighbouring Royal College of Art, and hosting regular talks, parties and dinners in partnership with the neighbouring Street Kitchen. When, in 2015, the TESTBED1 warehouse site was marketed for sale to housing developers, Doodle Bar moved home to a series of railway arches in Bermondsey. The TESTBED ethos continues there with an eclectic programme of live events, exhibitions and performance.