We took our roaming office to the Breezeblock Cafe recently (April 2023), which means we spent the day as a team using Breezeblock as our workspace.
Previously the site of a Chinese restaurant, Breezeblock is a breath of fresh air in Brixton, a creative and quirky cafe space using recycled, repurposed and restored materials. From the eponymous green-painted breeze blocks in the courtyard to the muted mustard yellow pressed steel ceilings inside, all add an authentic vintage flair to this upbeat establishment.
Mantis describes the cafe as the “heart of Brixton,” a place where everyone comes to meet. On the day we visit it's evident that this space is accommodating and inclusive. Breezeblock Cafe evokes a feeling of being in someone’s living room. Here, laughter and the hiss of the coffee machine melt seamlessly into the clicking hum of keyboards.
Light floods onto the floor through the glass doors with green-painted trim where from the many dining tables you’ll be beckoned by the sun-soaked courtyard. With an eclectic collection of tables and chairs, reminiscent of an afternoon in your grandmother’s backyard, a spectacular succulent garden, curated by Justin Brett Studios, this space is utterly welcoming and ideal for working quietly, or just enjoying time out.
Breezeblock’s menu is simple and unpretentious, with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility. Mantis explains that many of the menu items can be changed to suit different dietary requirements, from gluten-free and plant-based to other substitutions. “Everyone should be able to eat here,” Mantis says. Since joining in January 2023, Mantis has introduced a number of new items to the menu which include two freshly pressed juice options and a cocktail that will be sure to please.
Breezeblock is “a homey corner to hide in and get stuff done,” says Mantis. She even tells a story of a patron who credited the cafe in her postgraduate thesis. The cafe is homey and comfortable without trying to be trendy. The space reflects the community it resides in, and exudes an undeniable warmth and sense of belonging.
In addition to the cafe, the building houses an architectural firm on the first floor and two apartments on the second which recipients of the Goethe Insitut’s LAPA Pan-African Artist Residency programme call home. Additionally, the cafe building also houses a bicycle school for beginners. “It’s a multipurpose building,” concludes Mantis. She praises the establishment’s whimsy and the patrons who make it special, adding “This is home.”
The Breezeblock Cafe succeeds in its efforts to connect with the community and those that visit, perfectly reflecting the overflowing creativity of Brixton. It is a place for the artistically inclined, university students and residents who may come for a quiet place to work or a quick coffee but ultimately become part of the neighbourhood family.
Breezeblock also has an uninterrupted power supply so ideal for working at during loadshedding.