February 2010

Saturdays in Brixton: We Need You!

For the past four months, Space Makers Agency has been working at Brixton Village (aka Granville Arcade), an amazing indoor market in south London. When we started, there were 20 empty shops in the market. Now they’re full of new community-​driven businesses and temporary creative projects. We’ve been working to make the space work for them — as well as for the existing traders.

Now, we’re looking for artists, musicians, performers, community groups and others to get involved and help make Granville a sociable, creative and welcoming space for everyone — and a place where local, independent businesses can thrive.

Since January, we’ve been organising events at the market every Saturday. From pop-​up restaurants to performance festivals, sweet-​making workshops, a carnival parade, bicycle-​powered cabaret and community opera, the art deco arcades have welcomed all kinds of playful, hands-​on, DIY fun. It’s all been done on a shoestring and a huge amount of good will.

And so far, it’s been a real success story. The Times called the project “the largest example yet of a growing nationwide trend” for the creative reuse of underused space. Big green bloggers Treehugger wrote about the “very special atmosphere… bursting with energy, atmosphere and a true sense of community” and called it “an important social experiment.”

What’s mattered most to us, though, is how far people who’ve known and cared about Brixton Market for years have been willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. We don’t take this for granted.

The idea of a market as a sociable space, where people hang out, listen to a storyteller or a group of musicians or get into philosophical debates, meet old friends and make new ones — this isn’t something arty or avant garde, it’s been going on for as long as markets have existed. It’s one of the things that makes a market a different kind of space to a supermarket or department store.

It’s in that spirit that we want to keep the Saturday events growing, but also make them more organic, something anyone can get involved in. It’s not like we’ve tried to be exclusive up to now, but there hasn’t necessarily been an easy way to get involved. So we’ve decided to start having a weekly meeting that’s open to anyone who wants to make things happen at the market. This will be a chance to bring your ideas, meet others to collaborate with and find ways to get involved.

So come along to The Dogstar on Coldharbour Lane on Tuesday nights at 6.15pm. We look forward to meeting you!

(And, in the mean time, join us tomorrow for We are Family — a day of fun for all ages!)

(Photos from Andy Broomfield and Ash Finch)

Remembering Spaces: Workshops 4th & 13th Feb

Space Makers Agency and RIBA London have joined forces for a pair of events this month, as part of the Forgotten Spaces design competition. Artists, students, designers, architects and space makers of all kinds are invited to take part in our mapping workshops in Brixton and Hackney.

The Forgotten Spaces competition invites proposals for overlooked pieces of land around the capital. Our workshops will explore the questions this opens up — who has a space been “forgotten” by? What roles might it play for different people who live or work around it? How do we go about “remembering” a space in ways which take account of the relationships people already have with a space?

The workshops will be led by Space Makers Associate Sara Haq and will involve exploring and mapping potential “forgotten spaces” in the local area, as well as developing ideas and perspectives from which proposals could be developed. We want to encourage people to think beyond the conventions of their professional practice and explore the complexities of space and memory.

The first event is this Thursday — the second, a week next Saturday. Here are the details:

Brixton: 15.00−17.30, Thursday 4 Feb (up to 50 capacity)
Meet outside Unit 41/​42, Brixton Village indoor market, Atlantic Road, Brixton
Directions here

Hackney: 15:00–17.30, Saturday 13 February
Meet at 129 — 131 Mare Street, Hackney E8 3RH

Places for the workshops will be awarded on a first come first served basis and additional sessions may be held in other areas, subject to demand. You’ll need to bring your own digital camera (or cameraphone), notebook and writing materials.

The event is free, however all attendees must register in advance. Contact to book a place.