Adnams Cafe

When Adnams brewery relocated its distribution depot out of the centre of Southwold, it freed up a significant site in the town for redevelopment. Ash Sakula won the invited competition and was appointed architect for a two-phase project to create a shop and cafe for the brewery, followed by a development of mixed-tenure housing known as Tibby's Triangle.

Our design opened up the site and re-connected it with the rest of the town, creating a convivial, sustainable mixed-use development. The completed scheme is cited by Historic England as an exemplar for the constructive conservation of a small coastal town, boosting commercial and leisure activity both within the scheme and beyond.

We designed Adnams Store and Cafe to be a place of real, genuine community, that drew on the historic and social cues of the town and the historic Adnams Brewery previously on the site. It becomes a social hub for the area, knitting the new housing development into the old town seamlessly. It becomes a real market square, where neighbours gather to catch up or enjoy a coffee in the quick, brisk air of a sunny, beachy morning.

2004 First Prize Southwold Competition

Drayman Square and Adnams cafe designed by Ash Sakula

This is now a lively, accessible part of town. It is a little piece of public life, a square where people come to meet up for a coffee and end up staying longer than they intended to, hanging out, tasting wine and enjoying the farmers market.

Entrance to Adnam's Store Southwold looking along Tibby's Way

Compared with the old store, the new facility has doubled the client’s turnover and tripled its profit - but its commercial impact goes far beyond that.  

We gave this once-impermeable industrial site back to the town by striking it through with small-scale through-routes and little green spaces.

The outcome is a profitable retail destination which has boosted commercial activity along the whole street; a lively little square where people go to hangout, taste wine and enjoy the farmers market; and 34 new homes that confidently combine contemporary design with typologies, details and materials that draw on local tradition.

The project is an exemplar of sustainable, long-term regeneration of a small coastal town.

Internal view of Adnans Store, with pitched roof and plywood walls.

The new building that houses the shop and café combines the sociability of a village hall with the conviviality of a marketplace. Shop and café functions flow into each other and connect strongly with the outdoor space, which makes the place feel airy, informal and welcoming.

Sunny view of Drayman Square with cafe glazed wall behind and St.Edmunds Church tower in background.

The low green roof of the café gives views onto the 'borrowed landscape' of St Edmund's Church tower.

Aerial view of square showing reused groynes set into flooring and the green roof to the cafe.

Green-roofed café, left, incorporating timber vats from the old brewery, and barn-like store, right.

Dusk view of the warmly lit cafe with the stone church tower behind.

Late afternoon winter view of café and church.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Client: Adnams Brewery

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

M+E Engineer: Michael Popper Associates 

Cost Consultant: AppleyardsDWB 

Completed: 2008

Woman reading at a table with shoppers in background and pendant lights hanging from timber beams above.

The link between store and café, incorporating remnants discarded from the old Adnams brewery.

Read more about the thinking behind this project:
Seating area with timber benches and tables and copper walls and ceilings.

Old copper-lined beer vats have been re-purposed as cosy places to sit, one facing outside, one facing in, offering flexible space with a choice of niches and vantage points.

Sunlight reflecting brightly off corrugated metal cladding

The new store is like a market hall - although with a gleaming industrial aesthetic.

Close-up of glazed gable end with timber framed windows.

The store's two glazed gables provide two entrances, one from the high street, the other from the new square.

Outdoors, discarded timber groynes from the town’s seafront make interesting ingredients for sitting and playing on.

The café opens off the main store. It is cosy in winter and opens up to outdoors in warmer weather.