Community charity Clapton Commons has opened a new venue in Stamford Hill with interiors designed by architectural practice Artefact.
In a world that needs connection more than ever, community spaces are key to bringing people together. However, in cities such as London, such venues are in short supply and, once core to local neighbourhoods, village halls and community hubs have declined in number rapidly over the last few decades. Community charity Clapton Commons is seeking to change this. With a mission to recreate spaces which allow communities to bond, share interests, or partake in activities, it has opened a new space in Stamford Hill in the undercroft of St Thomas Church.
The Common Rooms, which opened earlier this month, is the result of a collaboration between Clapton Commons and London-based architectural studio Artefact. Financed through support from the GLA, Hackney Community Fund and The Clothworkers’ Foundation and a crowd-funding campaign led by the charity, Artefact turned to everyday materials and a mood-boosting colour palette in its transformation of the empty space which resides in the 1950s modernist building designed by Nugent Cachemaille-Day.
Looking to reflect the needs of its diverse users, colour was key within the space to compensate for its limited incoming natural light. Bold blues set against soft pastel peach tones with woodwork finished in a burnt red hue comes together cohesively, elevating the space with a fresh and contemporary aesthetic. Wood and wool panels were also created to act as partitions while helping to absorb sound across the extensive layout. “We developed a vibrant, varied colour palette to reflect the optimistic outlook of the client and the community, and to uplift what was previously a gloomy undercroft,” says Artefact’s Director, Daniel Marmot. “Our main aim was to encourage unexpected encounters through the spatial planning while forging a new identity for Clapton Commons through the character of the architecture.”
Going beyond the interiors, Artefact have also created a striking statement at the entrance to the space. Bold signage and a colour-drenched doorway exudes joy and positivity – a warm welcome which joyfully pops in contrast to the surrounding brick. The space is centred around a large canteen with facilities encouraging people to cook together in its new kitchen while holding intimate or large-scale public meetings. Hoping to host a cross-section of community-led events and workshops through an extensive programme, the flexibility of the space has been enhanced through the creative brilliance of Artefact. “The partnership allowed us to develop a vision for a community hub as a space where people could come together, action could be witnessed, and hope could be shared in transforming the neighbourhood and lives of people we work with,” states Joe Walker, the Director of Clapton Commons. “This is our common purpose – to give people more control over their lives and to foster a sense of shared ownership of civic and community space.”
The project emanates a message of hope that, through collaboration and a sense of purpose, beautiful community spaces can be created even when funds are scarce. And, in working across sectors and drawing on the creative realm, it shows how human-centred design continues to be a positive force for change.
Imagery courtesy of Jim Stephenson.