all, cultural & creative
Camden Collective is a top innovative provider of creative start-up support for young entrepreneurs. As a project of the CamdenTown Business Improvement District they take on long-term derelict buildings on a meanwhile tenancies in order to provide a hub of free office space that supports learning, burntness development and the visible reinvigoration of underused neighbourhood areas.
Between 2015 and 2019 Collective took on its two largest and most prominent buildings, but with limited budgets and time-scales, when faced the internal fit out and transformation of these sites they were concerned about using either traditional designers with grand ideas or traditional contractors with little creativity.
Co-DB recommended an iterative approach to decision making, undertaking overlapping cycles of design and construction for the demolitions, surface finishing, fitted and free-standing furniture. This allows for a more organic decision making process when working with team members who aren’t necessarily used to drawings, as well as allowing both designers and occupants proper time to get to know the buildings and where their greatest opportunities and constraints really lie.
At every stage of the renovations we worked with hub managers to introduce both practicality and delight into the buildings. We focused on opening up subdivided spaces, improving the flow of people, use of daylight and legibility of the environment. We then worked on various scales of new additions to the buildings, from new partitions, wall and floor coverings that would form the backdrop to its new use, to the fitted and free-standing furniture that facilitates collaborative activity.
Through our initial demolition work we uncovered the windows, views, fixtures and fittings of the original building, as well as reclaiming materials from the previous users such as hundreds of old NHS whiteboards and useful doors for worktops. At the Euston site we used offcuts from the fit-out and demolition to create new highly visible entrances on the street frontages.
Both fixed and flexible furniture throughout the two sites have allowed for once empty spaces to be quickly adapted and used for multiple purposes, with young people learning together in a unique and nurturing environment. New colours, materials and functionality add a new layer to uncovered original features, add a sense of history and narrative and helping young people feel rooted and appreciated in their community.