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Little Ground Cafe: a study in texture, transparency and materiality

Little Ground Cafe: a study in texture, transparency and materiality


Nobody walks in L.A, as the saying goes, but this corner walk-up cafe aims to inspire and enhance the area’s rare pedestrian culture.

Little Ground Cafe is located in a district where thousands of workers drive into their fully serviced closed campuses for 8-12 hours a day and seldom leave, primarily due to the lack of outside options. The nearest residential neighbourhood is a ten minute walk from this busy corner, which serves direct access to a major LA freeway. Pedestrian activity in the area is lacking, to say the least.

Seating area of Little Ground

To entice visitors, the cafe owners briefed Los Angeles-based design practice WORD to expand its footprint from a tiny service counter with dilapidated outdoor eating area, to a counter service gourmet cafe and large outdoor dining facility.

Busy street corner

The main focus of the design is to create a calm, inviting public space that directly engages its frenetic urban setting. The combination of a cast-in-place wall with built-in seating and a patterned wood screen guards visitors from highly trafficked corners while also creating an intimate space.

“The real joy in the project came from working with the patterning, texture and connections of the various wood slats, steel and concrete elements,” says WORD founder Chris Warren.

People in the courtyard at Little Ground

“Variability in the size, angle, colour and spacing of the cedar screen draws attention from passersby (at all speeds), as well as offers differing degrees of shading and view mitigation. The concrete seating is contoured for comfort and follows an arc at the corner, allowing for seamless continuity and flow of materials.”

Photography by Chris Warren


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