Feilden Fowles Studio and Oasis Farm
- Original design
- Feilden Fowles, 2016
This self-initiated and self-funded project demonstrates Feilden Fowles’ ambition for the practice and capacity to see projects through regardless of scale and challenges. It also demonstrates our commitment to education projects and contributing to local communities.
Designed as a demountable structure, the studio is built of a Douglas fir timber frame clad with corrugated Onduline bitumen sheets. The materials are redolent of agricultural building forms, reinterpreted for its actual purpose to house an emerging team of architects. The long elevation facing south is articulated by steel T columns and floor to ceiling glazing providing uninterrupted views of the garden (designed by Dan Pearson Studio). The columns have defined a 1830mm grid, equivalent to ¾ of a plywood sheet, which ensures an efficient use of materials and minimal cuts and wastage.
The entire studio has been designed to embody the values of the practice, as a demonstration of a rational, highly articulated and low-cost structure that provides a model typology for contemporary work and education spaces.
An overgrown and neglected plot of land on the south side of Westminster Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth, has been transformed into a collective home – and community farm – for a trio of organisations with a shared focus on education: architects Feilden Fowles and the charities Jamie’s Farm and Oasis Hub Waterloo.
The two charities were granted a lease for the 1700 sqm site in 2014. Feilden Fowles have been engaged from the outset master-planning the whole site, from the design of animal pens and sheltered outdoor classroom, to their new studio, the site for which has been offered in exchange for their design services.
The sliver of land is owned by Guy’s and St Thomas’ who have negotiated the lease. It was originally marshland and later used for farming in the 18th century and it will return to its original use as a unique vision of a community farm in the heart of London, satisfying the requirements of both charities and numerous local stakeholders.
The origins of Lambeth come from Lambehitha meaning “landing place for lambs”. This iteration – a meanwhile use – will remain for five to ten years, when St Thomas’ Hospital intends to redevelop the site as part of a masterplan to expand the hospital facilities.
The rectangular infill site, bordered by Royal Street and Carlisle Lane, SE1, is bookended on the north end by Feilden Fowles’ studio, and the farm entrance and welcome area at the south. The positioning of the studio is key: pushed against the northern boundary in order to define a generous, south-facing shared courtyard garden.
The garden been designed by local landscape designer Dan Pearson Studio and is sheltered by an historic brick wall, a remnant of the site’s rich history, once home to a row of Victorian terraces that were heavily bombed during the war. It will provide a break-out space and an outdoor workshop for the studio, doubling up as an intimate, quiet learning space for students visiting the farm.
Jamie’s Farm helps urban children at risk of exclusion between the ages of 11-16, through a residential programme combining ‘farming, family and therapy’. Children are involved with the daily running of the farm, learning seasonal activities from lambing to hay making, and also participating in cooking, gardening, carpentry, horse care and art. The week is punctuated by one-to-one and group sessions, and children are supported with the transition back to school by Jamie’s Farm staff.
Oasis Farm Waterloo has created the opportunity for Wiltshire-based Jamie’s Farm to bring their work to central London, through partnering with Oasis Hub Waterloo, a charity deeply embedded within the local community. Oasis runs two local schools, as well as a number of additional facilities supporting children and families in the wider area, including a food bank and children’s centre. Since summer 2014 the new farm development has been regularly hosting local schools, as well as adult and community evening classes and cookery clubs.
The completion of studio marked the second phase of the development. In June 2015 the first phase, the construction of the animal pens, was inaugurated by the Duchess of Cornwall, a patron of Jamie’s Farm. A final phase, an education barn at the eastern end of the site, is due to be completed at the end of October 2017.
Acting as a gateway to the whole site, this timber-framed structure will house the main educational spaces on the farm, including a classroom for 30 children and spaces for quieter small group or one-to-one meetings. The space will also be available for private hire, generating revenue to support the valuable activities and facilities offered on the farm, as well as providing an opportunity to reach a broader demographic in the neighbourhood and beyond.