Collaborative Design

The Granville

RCKa has completed The Granville – a workspace and community hub in South Kilburn that is a truly ambitious example of mixed-use, community-led regeneration. The centre is the result of a two-year long partnership between a diverse range of project partners and local people determined to bring this treasured community asset back into full use.

Conceived and operated by the South Kilburn Trust (SKT), funded through the GLA’s London Regeneration Fund, and housed in a 19th century former church hall owned by Brent Council – The Granville offers affordable workspace to local entrepreneurs; provides space for community events; houses SKT and its charitable work including business advice, employment training and resident activities; and incorporates existing uses ranging from a children’s centre to a community kitchen.

"London’s infrastructure is facing significant pressures. This has an impact on community cohesion, quality of life and entrepreneurship. The Granville is a great example of a place responding to these pressures in an innovative manner, by bringing different users together and providing both community infrastructure and affordable workspace. Thoughtful high-quality design and community engagement has resulted in bringing a much-loved building back to life and making it accessible and fit for all Londoners."
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration & Skills

From the outset, RCKa worked with key project partners to set out a commercially viable long-term vision for the project which enabled capital funding to be secured and a new future for the building to be realised. Day visits to exemplar schemes, public consultation events, working models, life size drawings and one-to-one workshops contributed towards a collaborative design process which drew on the skills and knowledge of a diverse range of stakeholders and consultees. The result is a design for the renovation of Granville that carefully mediates between multiple user requirements, whilst integrating opportunities to improve community cohesion and encourage social interaction.

Two strategic moves open up the building to the local community, breathing new life into once cramped interior spaces and activating a previously hidden garden. A brightly-coloured public entrance and arrival sequence increases use of the south-facing garden, delivering visitors directly into the heart of the building while resolving complex access issues. Meanwhile, the creation of an open and welcoming public ‘living room’, complete with community café, rationalises circulation, increases flexibility and encourages chance encounters and informal conversations.

"The potential of the studios is in the ability of someone to come in and transform the space, to make it their own. It really separates The Granville from almost anything else out there."
Julian Hall, 'The Ultrapreneur' & SKT Business Advisor

The building culminates in the original church hall, a wonderful double height space with slender timber columns and generous windows which flood the interior with natural daylight. Here we created the enterprise hub, a new home for the much-loved, but now run down, South Kilburn Studios. Working with a tight budget we focused on openness and flexibility. Using a palette of low-cost materials we created a series of open studios arranged around a bright blue staircase which linked the two floors of the workspace and further accentuated the height of the hall. The intention was to create a triple height market hall, where on arrival you would be able to look out across the two floors and see all the activity going on in the individual studios.

The ambition was to create a triple height ‘market hall’ where, on arrival, users would be able to look out across the space, see the activity underway within each studio and experience the buzz of creative enterprise. The open nature of the completed space encourages interaction between users, fostering collaboration and a supportive communal environment. Central to this concept is a bold blue timber staircase, cut through the space, acting as a focal point for the enterprise hub. Surrounded by open studios, the stairs connect users on both floors, accentuate the height of the original hall and provide a moment of pause for incidental meeting and conversation between fellow entrepreneurs.

Client: London Borough of Brent

Key Stakeholder: South Kilburn Trust

Capital Funding: GLA London Regeneration Fund

Construction Value: £650,000

Completion: Spring 2018

Location: South Kilburn, Brent

Graphic Design: Europa

Photography: Jakob Spriestersbach & Kit Oates