Delivering a broader vision
With Southwark Town Hall having played an important role in Camberwell life for many years, Southwark Council was keen for proposals for its renovation to both involve and benefit the local community, as well as boost the area economically.
“Our successful proposal for Southwark Town Hall took a fresh approach which respected the history and character of existing buildings, but aimed to mark a new phase of history for this important site within the local community,” says Alumno managing director David Campbell. “It also took on board key local and national planning policies.”
Aligned with the Mayor of London’s Plan, which recognises the importance of higher education in the economy, the cornerstone of the proposal was to develop the grand Town Hall building as student accommodation. As around 120 people studying locally would be living on the site, Alumno was keen to get students directly involved in the development, working with Chelsea College of Art and Design to style the interior.
“We were really impressed with their ideas and incorporated the best into the new development,” says Campbell.
To create local jobs and investment opportunities, the development also features artist’s studios with high ceilings and plenty of natural light on the ground and lower ground floor levels of the building for use by students and local artists, all served by an on-site café. Meanwhile, the project included the demolition and rebuild of the nearby Theatre Peckham to a state-of-the-art theatre, which offers affordable performing arts classes to three to 18-year-olds.
The site was improved aesthetically through carefully planned landscaping, making public access areas more clearly defined and enhancing the Sceaux Conservation Area in which Southwark Town Hall is located.
Commenting on the finished development, Campbell says: “This wonderful building provides light and spacious bedroom accommodation, as well as generous communal areas. What’s more, the main entrance and courtyard allows students to circulate between the Town Hall and the recently refurbished neighbouring student block without disrupting traffic and pedestrians. There is also a large shared common room, which uses the dramatic skyline view from the roof.”
Camberwell has gained from an inclusive development, true to its historic heritage, which benefits the local community, and provides an economic boost to the area by growing the existing higher education hub.