In a sleepy little sailing village with a vibrant and environmentally conscious community there is a green open space, occupied by horses and dog walkers.
Here, we’ve transformed an old shipping container into an Indonesian inspired, eco friendly Crate Cafe. No, this isn’t just a wonderful story, it is true.
Inspired by our travels in Indonesia we wanted to create a destination that isn’t just a coffee shop but a testament to the relaxed and vibrant village vibe, while being unrelentingly committed to sustainability.
The Crate Cafe Former Life
Back in May, the Crate Cafe started life as an old, rough unused shipping container. It wasn’t the best looking container, we had a vision of a fancy corrugated specimen but fell in love with a flat panelled box. This meant giving life to a second used container to cut corrugated sheets from to give us the look we dreamed of.
We cut away half of the enclosed box to create our vision of a large front of house servery and a side serving hatch for quick coffee collection. We already had the shutters for the openings on standby at Emsworth Garage Doors – they were mis-ordered and destined for the dump so we were more than happy to take them off their hands and create the openings to fit.
The cutting, chopping and remodelling of the container was dirty work so we made use of some space at a local yard belonging to Solent Skips, Containers and Storage to get our crate ready for installation at its new home in Bosham.
Lowering the reformed crate into it position, ready for its makeover and reincarnation was an exciting day. As it touched down on to it’s new footings even without all the design and build we had in store for the space it looked majestic with the backdrop of the fields and South Downs.
Landscaping the perfect outdoor space
The next stage was to landscape the space around the crate, to create the extensive outdoor seating space that we hoped would become the hub of the village.
We landscaped and decked 150+ sq m of former car park space using reclaimed scaffold boards. The landscaped area was then enclosed in fences, made from wood we saved from being thrown out at Jewsons builders merchants. A resin access ramp was built, courtesy of the team at Bosham Landscapes and a unique double layered fence created using locally sourced and milled deadwood oak from Wittering Wood. A large metal entrance gate installed that was once used on a local farm to keep the livestock contained.
Suddenly the crate wasn’t just a box in a car park, the space was starting to take shape.
When we picked the crate shell back in May we also picked up an old office toilet block. It wasn’t much to look at but we knew that with some care, attention and a bit of design flare we could turn it into something deserving of the Crate space.
The WC block was completely overhauled and given a bougie makeover into a tropical restroom experience for Crate’s customers.
Knowing the British weather wasn’t always going to be kind to us we needed to create some shelter for our customers so that the space can be enjoyed all year round.
Our seating booths, affectionally known as the ‘bike sheds’ were built using corrugated tin from a local scaffold company that was going to be thrown out. It has been left outside and was rusty and tarnished but we like that…it’s got character. Each booth houses an old school canteen table that we re-topped with reclaimed scaffold boards to create perfectly in-keeping bench seating ready to be filled with happy customers.
We wanted the exterior design of the cafe to be a mix of natural and industrial materials so we clad a large section of the crate using locally sourced sustainable Goodwood cedar cut at A&G Lillywhite’s, down the road in Charlton.
To stay true to our sustainability ethos we wanted as many of the fixtures and fittings inside the Crate to be re-used and recycled too.
We sourced a second hand deli fridge and treated it to a deep clean to make it as good as new. Then to make it as unique as the rest of the space we covered the exterior front with some reused victorian parquet flooring.
Some old wire lockers salvaged from a school provided the perfect racking for us to use behind the counter for all the treats we had in store for our customers.
Finishing touches – Courtesy of local friends
Some green fingered friends at Broadreach Landscapes created a plant display on the exterior wall of the crate space so that we always look bright and inviting.