Turner Works

Related Project:
Peckham Levels

Tim Crocker

1. It all starts with an open mind.

A multi-storey car park might not seem like the most promising or creative of spaces, but this run-down, neglected structure presented us with the perfect conditions and raw materials for what we had in mind – a creative and cultural space where people could work, learn, create, share skills, and simply come together.

2. Once you’ve found your space, appreciate its natural qualities.

Tread gently, take a low-tech approach, and work with the building – not against it. In the case of Peckham Levels, we were dealing with something particularly robust and industrial. But it would be the perfect blank canvas for people to make it their own. The exposed structure, long horizontal strip openings and regular grid of columns and beams would set up long, rhythmic views from one end of the building to the other. The split-level floors would create interesting spaces. And the vehicle ramps would act as a continuous route through the building. Peckham Levels is special precisely because everyone knows – and celebrates – the fact that it’s a former car park. When you walk around, you still see the old yellow direction arrows and the parking bay markings on the floor. The simple, honest materials we used complement the existing fabric rather than trying to erase it. And all of this expresses the meanwhile nature of the project.

3. You’ll be surprised how adaptable existing forms can be.

What was once a silo for cars has now become a birthplace of ideas. A typical studio takes up the space of one former parking bay. The wide vehicle aisles have become breakout spaces and communal work areas which will flex and change with people’s needs. And the scale of the building allows expansive social spaces for gatherings and events. It’s as if this building was just waiting to welcome its new purpose. For us, it’s been quite a journey. We poured almost everything we had into the project. But we emerged wiser, tougher and full of ideas for other possible transformations. We were ready for more.

Something to think about:

How many more disused, unloved spaces are out there waiting to become the backdrop for creativity to flourish? If you think you’ve spotted somewhere promising and we might be able to help, let’s start talking.