A light-filled dining room with raked ceilings in pistachio tones, newly fitted out in furniture that is at once crisply contemporary and casually inviting. In the kitchen, a rotating roster of some of the world’s best chefs led by Massimo Bottura, of the ‘world’s-best restaurant’, Osteria Francesca in Modena, Italy, cooks up a daily menu. You won’t get a reservation at this new London lunch spot in 2017, and good luck trying to get one for 2018. But it’s not your influencer status or your bank balance that’s in question; Refettorio Felix’s dining service is not open to the public.
The Refettorio is based at the Earl’s Court Anglican church, St Cuthbert’s, which has run a community kitchen to feed the city’s poor since 1987. The recently redesigned kitchen operates on surplus food collected from supermarkets by The Felix Project, another Bottura initiative born out of his charitable efforts for the homeless in Olympic cities. Multi-discliplinary designers Studioilse, led by Ilse Crawford, seized the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause, building on their folio of inviting, tactile interiors.
“A healthy city ecosystem is one where those who are profiting from it come together to generously give back to the less privileged within the community.”
As one of the richest countries in the world, Australia produces more waste per household than any other country after the United States, with activist group FoodWise claiming Australians generate $8 billion worth of edible waste per year. We have already seen some similarly innovative local initiatives for capturing supermarket excess, like the first OzHarvest ‘rescued food’ supermarket in Sydney’s Kensington, a pop-up made possible by developer TOGA Group, which contributed the valuable ground-floor space that would have otherwise stood vacant during lengthy development approvals.
The opportunity generated by healthy cities, which brings together people with diverse strengths and resources, whether it be a small piece of real estate, a distribution network, entrepreneurial skills or design capability, has the power to make our cities more liveable and equitable and also more enjoyable, for many rather than just a few. A thriving city ecosystem is one where those who are profiting from it come together to generously give back to the less privileged within the community, and Refettorio Felix is a great example of the power of pooled ideas to make positive change.
St Cuthbert’s Centre
Lily Keil is Senior Editor at Right Angle Studio. She trained and worked as an editor at Melbourne University Publishing before freelancing for diverse publishers for a few years before joining Right Angle. She has been published in magazines such as Meanjin, January Biannual and Higher Arc and was a co-editor of Good Sport magazine in 2016. Her childhood in remote Tasmania may be the origin of her abiding fascination with cities.
Images courtesy of Tom Mannion and Studioilse.