Live-Work London

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Message from Peckham Vision: The ideas, plans and drawings in this section are the result of a project for architecture students, 2007-2008, at the Department of Urban Design, Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus, Germany. Five projects, undertaken by 9 students, are presented in this section.

Peckham Vision would like to thank Christoph Heinemann and Ulrike Sturm, and their students, for their enthusiasm and interest in developing ideas to illustrate the potential of site 63P/71P as an organic integrated part of Peckham town centre, instead of its closure and use for a major tram depot by TfL.

Introduction

Mixed use as a catalyst for revitalisation

London today is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Within the next years the 7 million metropolis is expected to grow by another 800,000 people who will work and live in Greater London. Along with the economic growth, for instance in the financial or in the “creative sector”, the housing situation has tightened considerably.

Up to now in London even quarters close to the inner city often resemble a patchwork of disconnected commercial streets, insular residential areas and enterprise zones. This specific structure, created by English planning law, alters with changing claims in the area. Manufacturing and extensive commercial areas are dislocated, leaving behind space for temporary usages. Temporary projects, however, are under pressure as soon as tertiary sector usages or residential projects promise greater returns. Designing in this context means adjusting to the complexity of change, conducting the process productively and identifying new perspectives for building and space, connecting the new to the existing.

The Borough of Southwark is situated to the South of the Thames just opposite the City of London. It has, however, not yet been swept over by the tremendous economic growth of London. The usage of many commercial areas is at the moment being reconsidered. Instead of developer projects with maximum returns, one thinks instantly of affordable housing and workspace for “creative people”, who are trained at the neighbouring arts colleges or actively promote the preservation of their ateliers and music studios in Peckham. The existing structures have to be upgraded by new impulses to provide new options for the local population and at the same time to attract a new clientele, thus to promote a diverse, open and comfortable urban environment.

The design project aims at revitalising and re-designing former warehouses and integrating live work quarters into the very centre of Peckham. It is intended to redefine the existing patchwork structure proactively for different ways of living, thereby creating a vision for the city of the future. The assignment envisages concepts for the overall urban context, for the specific disposition of the new quarter, for building-typologies and architectural details.

In a first phase, existing live work typologies in Europe were analysed according to their urban, architectural as well as social implications. In a second phase, urban design concepts have been developed for the proposed areas, focused on the relation of public- and common space, which in England is differently perceived than in other European countries. Spatial concepts and urbanistic interventions have been designed for the highly fragmented situations – concerning social, programmatic or typological aspects – which are to be found in Peckham, to create a coherent and open space that is usable by all. Common space is understood as an initial, which might open up existing varieties and make them productive for future developments. In this sense the implementation of live work typologies as a form of mixed use, which is added to the existing structure, is seen as possibility to create new forms of public or semi-public life. Thus the design projects, in the end, produce a complex urban framework, which convincingly connects the scale of the city with the scale of typology and architecture. The implementation of mixed use, working and living, is seen as innovation, which might trigger new models for further discussion in the ongoing process of urbanisation in London.

In spring 2008 the projects have been presented to members of Southwark Council and Peckham Vision who we‘d like to thank for their friendly support. Special thanks goes to Mickey Smith, Benny O‘Looney, Adam Khan and Eileen Conn for guiding us and introducing us to the city, for their critique and input.

Peckham Density

Beate Burkart, Freia C. Fahrenholtz, Max Meiser

The area around Peckham Rye Station is defined as the centre of Peckham and as central point of a series of public spaces on Rye Lane, stretching from Peckham Library to Rye Park. The space in between the railway lines in front of Rye Station is used for a covered market; the neighbouring railway arches are used for small shops. Two passages connect the quarters north and south of the railway lines, thus expanding the existing urban net and producing new possibilities for development. The Bussey Building and adjacent buildings are transformed; the whole block is densified by adding a maximum of new volumes. Cultural functions, exhibition spaces and live-work units are added to the existing ateliers and venues. A succession of narrow alleys and small squares establishes a finely grained semi-public fabric linked to the market place on the north, which is used as the main access to the new ensemble.

Peckham Highlight

Maria Neumeier, Anne Grob

The Bussey Building block is densified by several adaptions and added volumes, to use its potentials to work as a major catalyst redefining Peckham Centre. Temporary programs and events are introduced to take place at the multi-storey car park as a counterpart to a long-term sustainable revitalisation of Bussey Building with functions ranging from live-work units to artist studios, showrooms and different public venues. A final upgrade by further floors on top of the building would allow to admire the London skyline not only from the existing roof-deck but to make Peckam Centre a landmark on its own, to be seen from all over the city.

Scene by Scene

Marina Daenicke, Anja Rumpel

A series of new public spaces, interconnected by a network of small streets and passages, is inserted into Peckham’s urban fabric. Rye Lane, considered as the backbone of the quarter, is strongly upgraded by the proposed second layer. New public or semi-public venues and places assigned to special purposes add to its structurally limited performance. Thus Peckham’s central functions are expanded and diversified; the whole area is transformed into a socially dense urban core. The newly introduced spaces use morphologic potentials of the existing to form a stable network, a chain of attractive settings. Public space is framed or defined by new buildings, stimulating and interacting with public life. Introducing this sequence of “Scenes” (cultural, commercial, spiritual etc.) not only provides new places open to appropriation but also brands and themes them. It also aims at upgrading the urban life by clearly defined complementary programs- as new functions or event spaces - linked to the existing local culture.

Rye Lane’s Second Row

Julia Schönbrunn

The project uses the potentials of the existing heterogeneous and fragmented urban tissue. In contrast to the small parcels lining the main street, Rye Lane’s “Second Row“ is characterized by large plots and building ensembles. This change of scale is due to historic transformations: during the 19th century industrial and commercial functions were added to the initial fabric and, later on, spaces vacant after the German bombings in World War II were used for larger housing estates and shopping venues. These sites, some of them still available or underused, some of the functions obsolete or out of date, are now redefined by implementing new functions and buildings, a diverse mix of public and private programs. The existing connections to Rye Lane by small streets, gaps and passages are used as public accesses; back roads to the sites serve mainly as feeders for the new developments (access by car, delivery of goods etc.). The functional and structural limits of Rye Lane as the backbone of Peckham Centre are overcome by a multitude of new extensions and functional options.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Natalia Pérez Velasco

Based on a blunt and precise analysis of the area, the project proposes an action plan, defining short-, mid- and long-term measures for the revitalisation of Peckham Centre. Interventions range from simply cleaning up spaces to the rehabilitation of the public realm based on public funding, from empowerment of local groups to concrete offers to future investors. Thus several spatial strategies, means of financing and funding and various forms of public and private engagement are used to create urban diversity in scale, form and function. At the heart of Peckham in front of Rye Station a Spice Market is initiated just by opening the space and using it for small shops and market stalls, selling mainly products from the multi-ethnic context of the existing community. Adding a good restaurant to this setting and a series of special events would instantly lead to a comfortable and promising urbanity. The project proposes a multitude of simple ideas, deduced from obvious potentials of the existing. By simply opening up the area, adding new functions without pushing out established ones. Control is gained by use instead of restrictive top down measures. The key options for the transformation of Peckham are already at hand and just need to be stimulated.