Our studio is filled with light and music.
There are multiple meeting rooms, a well stocked kitchen, and an indoor garden (with fishpond). Talk to us about access needs, environmental factors and any accommodations we might make to enhance your visit. Pop-in for tea and stay to use a spare desk for as long as you need.

11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Cog is a Certified B Corporation

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We’re next to Greenwich train and DLR station. We have a door right on the concourse but it’s different to our postal address.

From Greenwich rail platform

This video shows the route to take from the train that will arrive at Greenwich rail station from London Bridge. There's a gentle slope next to the staircase.

From Greenwich DLR station

This video shows the route to take from the DLR that will arrive at Greenwich DLR station from Bank. There's a lift at the platform level if that's useful.

By car

If you have to come by car, we have a couple of parking spaces. We have a charging point that you are welcome to use if you have an electric car. Call ahead and we'll make sure the spaces are free. Use our postcode (SE10 9QF) to guide you in.

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11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Cog is a Certified B Corporation

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Cultural Calendar

A round-up of recommendations and reviews, sent on the first Friday of each month, topped-off with a commissioned image from a talented new illustrator. Sign-up and tell your friends.

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ZU-UK: Radio Ghost and Within Touching Distance

ZU-UK: Radio Ghost and Within Touching Distance

Within a week of each other, Michael took part in two excellent immersive experiences from ZU-UK: Radio Ghost and Within Touching Distance. They both moved him enough to write reviews.

Radio Ghost

Radio Ghost was described as an audio tour by three competitors taking part in a game. The location was secret until the day. I’d assumed, because a ‘ghost-hunt in a haunted mall’ would be in an abandoned building that needed extra security. I could not have been more wrong.

I’d missed the experience when it was part of LIFT 22 (due to a bout of COVID) so I was really pleased they’d brought it back but I was nervous going on my own.

After emailing early in the day to request at least a meeting point, I was directed to Westfield in Stratford. At 7pm I met the organisers and my two fellow competitors, in a furtive handover of headphones and gaming mobiles, outside a barrista bar in an almost daylight bright elevated walkway. 

My two fellow players were a couple, I’d guess in their early thirties on a fairly early date. She was excited and engaged, her player name was ‘The Baby’. He, however, could not have been more disinterested as we received our pre-game pep-talk, and maybe I cared less for him because I’ve already forgotten his character name. Of the trio, I was naturally ‘The Elder’.

“There are no live players so if anyone approaches you they are a ‘real person’; just tell them you are listening to a podcast”. 

Oh, OK, that’s erm, disturbing. That’s why the location hadn’t been publicised.

In a covered shopping walkway, a man stands holding a mobile device, with two identical devices on a table in front of him.

A ZU-UK team member gets our devices ready.

Headphones on, we were immersed in a personalised radio show.

“Walk to the beat” said our DJ as we entered the unreality of pre-Christmas evening shopping and found our own routes through the insanity of consumerism writ very large indeed.

The music was from the 80s – nostalgia for me, historic anachronism for my younger companions.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.

I was directed to find and enter a perfume shop, to pick up and photograph the products and spritz the fragrances. The only customer in the shop, I was attracting the side-eye examination of several counter staff. But we all played the game of pretending we didn’t notice the madness of it all.

A crackle and a break in the radio transmission as ghost voices talked of workers’ exploitation, of monopolies and cartels, and of manufacturers hiding the secrets of poisonous ingredients.

A siren breaks the spell. Had the shop assistance had enough; had I triggered alarm in their unreality?

It was the radio authorities trying to restore the facade of capitalism to our show. I had to shake my phone to silence the sirens and receive the transmissions from another dimension.

I was feeling pretty self-conscious in that small shop.

Mercifully, the voices in my head directed me back to the mall and told me to find a safe space to record my recollections for transmission to other players.

Reflected in a blank advertising screen we see a half cut-off image of a man wearing headphones and taking a photo of his reflection. Behind the screen is a brightly lit perfume shop.

Michael’s reflection outside the perfume shop.

And then the beat was back and I was walking, striding to A-ha’s Take on Me.

Look at all the images of beautiful people living luxurious lives. If you owned those products, wore those clothes, sprayed that scent, you could be like them. You could be happy.

Walk to the beat.

Look at all those shiny surfaces. Imagine all the hidden cameras focused on you right now. Don’t step out of line. Conform. Be a good consumer. Look happy.

Walk to the beat…

I hear the voice of The Baby playing through my headphones. They tell me where they’ve been and I’m directed to retrace their steps.

I’m strolling at first but I can’t find the right shop. This place is vast, across two floors. I’m searching, up and down escalators, in and out of food courts and along the glass-shuttered arms of retail outlets. The voice in my head is calm but firm about my need to find that location swiftly. I’m panicking now. Everywhere looks the same. I don’t want to let the others down. I can’t be late. I’m running. I’m a child, lost in a world I don’t understand.

And then I spot it, the welcome sign of my destination. Relief. Calm is momentarily restored.

I’m shopping for a toy in a Christmas wrapped department store. It’s familiar and familial.

Except I don’t really know what I’m looking for and I’m photographing random toys, and I’m sure the woman in the next aisle is a store detective, so I’m performing the dance of keeping my hands in sight. And there’s a voice in my head talking about gender-normative narratives and desensitising boys to violence, and those boys growing to be men who murder and rape, and I just want to leave and…

Walk to the beat.

Walk to the beat.

There’s a third experience with a woman’s leather coat, prompted by the poor choices of the third of our players but I’m ignoring that one.

I’m walking to the beat.

And now the beat is slowing.

There are clever Italian, musical words for each speed but the crux is that, as their world is moving at the regular pace, I am slowing to a stroll, an amble, a crawl and then a full-stop.

Our games-master gives us three chances to hold perfectly still for a minute.

We blow all three within seconds. I’m pretty sure our third player has abandoned the game for a sports bar.

It’s over,

We’ve failed in the game. And that’s OK.

In the foreground, a mobile phone is held to show the screen contains the word FAIL. In the background is a digital display advertising a Blac Friday event sale of 50% off.

I walk back to the baristas to return my kit. The Baby was there too. We shared our photos and laughed about the experience.

As I left and walked (at my own pace) towards Stratford station, I passed our third player. We shook hands like men and went our separate ways.

I weaved through the crowds, stepped onto the tube, put headphones on, pressed play on my device and entered my own reality.

Within Touching Distance

‘Michael Smith?’ Asked the earnest young woman, in a green flowery dress, as soon as I approached the welcome desk, behind some temporary screens in the ground floor of the University of Greenwich. 


‘The reception person has just stepped away from the desk, she’ll be back soon… please take a seat’. 

The reception person returned. She was another young woman wearing an identical dress. 

She took my full details and talked me through some pre-amble. 

Did I know anything about the show? ‘Only that it is VR’.

Within Touching Distance is a one-on-one live performance that combines human touch, spatial audio, VR synchronisation and is part of a larger research project exploring the role of XR and human touch in digital mental health therapies. The experience deals with topics including the final moments of life. 

Am I happy to continue? 

Of course.

The earnest young woman reappears, she takes my hand, which already feels like a transgressively intimate act for a cultural event. 

She leads me to an area that is kitted out like a child’s bedroom and sits me on the bed.

Somehow the whole experience is entirely asexual. I can’t work out how they achieved that, given the intimacy of the situation. But they did it brilliantly.

Wordlessly she unties each of my shoes and removes them before placing oversized brushed cotton pyjamas in a pile in front of me. She invites me to put the trousers on over my own. And then she helps me into my pyjama top, button by button.

Lying me down on the bed she gently places a VR headset on my head and as I lay down I see that I have transformed into a brown skinned child. An Asian mother figure looms into vision and reaches for my hand, exactly as someone gently takes my actual hand in theirs. 

My mother sings to me in a language I don’t understand. 

She hands (they hand) me a reading book and we turn the pages together as she pronounces each word. 

As the lights are dimmed she replaces the book with a small bear which of course I can see and touch, and feel in such a deeply profound way. 

I’m asked to sit up. 

Within the VR reality the bed moves, floating on moonlit dreamscapes of water, amongst other beds, reaching islands where I pass down school corridors, and back to water and into a workplace corridor, and back into water, illuminated by a lighthouse that guides me to…

I am in a care home. 

I have passed through my life and reached the end of days. 

Another reassuring woman appears. She is worried about how cold I am. She gets me to clasp a hot water bottle to my chest as she rubs my feet to get the circulation going. 

And then, with great care and dexterity, she moves me round so my feet dangle from the side of the bed. Placing each foot in a slipper she helps me to stand and places my hands to grasp a zimmer frame. 

A slow shuffle forward, and then back to my bed for a lie down.

The light intensifies and I’m asked to imagine my end of days, what memory would I take away, what would I cherish? 

My time is up. 

My headset is removed. 

And the earnest woman is there in the liminal space between that intense experience and the world I need to return to. 

She does it brilliantly. 

I step out of the pyjamas, into my shoes, jacket on. 

And again she looks deep into the eyes, asking me to share my chosen last memory. I’m filled to bursting with emotion but my mind is blank. 

I so want to say something profound, I want to reward her for such an incredible experience. 

But I had nothing but glib small talk and mumbled gratitude. 

Sorry intense young woman, I wish I were better in that moment.

She led me back to the reception area, gave me a glass of water and left me to try to better articulate my thoughts via a written survey, 

Within Touching Distance is part of a wider research project exploring the potential of remote haptic technologies so I guess those surveys provide some anecdotal feedback that’ll be useful beyond snappy quotes on publicity posts. 

I really hope so. 

Touch is so vital to human connection, and this experience shows how profound that can be, at least it was for me.