Cooke Fawcett Architects

Cooke Fawcett Architects

London, GB


Construction starts at Cockpit Deptford

By sophiejeffrey
Mar 29, '23 11:32 AM EST
Architect's model of Cockpit Deptford showing the new public entrance from Creekside
Architect's model of Cockpit Deptford showing the new public entrance from Creekside

Construction is underway for Cockpit’s transformation of their maker space in Creekside, Deptford. The designs by young architecture practice Cooke Fawcett, include a dramatic opening up of the existing building to create public spaces at ground floor. The proposals were approved by the London Borough of Lewisham in 2022.

Home to more than 60 makers and micro businesses, the transformation of Cockpit’s Deptford site unlocks underused space to deliver new and better public facilities. A new café and front yard space will give Cockpit a permanent public presence on Creekside for the first time, making it more open, active, inviting, and accessible. New education and community spaces are planned, meeting growing demand for events and practical workshops. Additionally, new, for purpose studios, workshops and storage spaces will increase affordable provision for makers, giving them the tools to build their businesses.

Funded by The Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, the Stride partnership and Lewisham Council, the project will broaden opportunities for the public to enjoy what Cockpit has to offer whilst also enabling makers to expand their practice into education, participation, and events. The remodelled building and site will accommodate an additional 21 businesses and support 26 new jobs.

The proposals were informed by an initial appraisal of the existing building which identified several areas of underused internal and external space which could be re‐imagined to support new functions. Part extension and part retrofit, the design weaves both elements through the existing concrete frame structure of Cockpit’s repurposed 1960’s former office building.

This part of Deptford is changing fast. Planned developments along Creekside will deliver a significant number of new homes, and Cockpit, as a light industrial space, will soon find itself part of a predominantly residential neighbourhood. This evolution presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Cockpit, in which the desire to preserve provision for makers sits alongside an interest in welcoming more people to the building.

Largely inaccessible until now, the existing front yard has qualities of a secret garden, and one aim of the project is to offer this unusual found space for events, activities, making and relaxation without changing its special walled garden character.

The design of new studio and workshop space proposes a simple robust structure lining the existing rear yard. This slim building will create a new dedicated wood and metal working space for cockpit and help to frame the existing outdoor work area.

Cockpit is a working building which supports creative practice. The new interiors will embrace the spirit of ‘Made at Cockpit’, with a robust aesthetic rooted in practicality and flexibility. The spatial and material experience of the visitor will closely echo that of the makers who use the building.

The project has a planned completion date of September 2023.

A new public artwork commissioned for the building’s Creekside façade is central to the creation of a new face for Cockpit. This new work represents an exciting opportunity for a site specific collaboration with one of Cockpit’s community of makers. The commission promises the potential for community engagement, articulation of Cockpit’s identity as a place where things are made, and for a maker to scale up their creative practice.

For Cooke Fawcett the Cockpit project builds on recent work with Bold Tendencies in Peckham, and CAST in Cornwall, which focuses on similar questions of creating new spaces and infrastructure to support artists and makers.

The team responsible for developing the project alongside the client includes Gardiner and Theobald as Quantity Surveyor, New Stages as project manager, Planning Lab as planning consultant, Max Fordham for M&E and lighting, Momentum for structure and Jane Simpson for Access. Filigree Communications have organised local consultation and workshops as the design has developed.

The main contractor selected for the works is Quinn London Ltd (QLL).

Annie Warburton CEO of Cockpit said:

“This will see an exciting transformation of Cockpit Deptford from a relatively self contained organisation into a vibrant community hub on Deptford’s Creekside. Our vision is to build a thriving centre for craft and making, providing affordable studios, expert business support, local jobs, and a rich programme of workshops, exhibitions, and events. We look forward to the launch of our newly transformed site in September 2023, and the years that lie ahead where we see the careers of future makers made at Cockpit.”

Francis Fawcett director of Cooke Fawcett added:

“Our work with Cockpit goes significantly up stream back to early ‘what if’ questions, feasibility work, and funding applications. As the design has developed, we’ve enjoyed collaborating with Cockpit’s community of makers to enrich decisions around materials, finishes and fit out of the spaces.

Historically, this kind of 60s structure is perhaps too easily maligned, but it’s a great, useful building, which welcomes transformation and retrofit. The building owes its layout to the imposition of a council office on the site of a former wharf and warehouse and it’s inspirational to us that this previous evolution created pockets of outdoor space of varying sizes, which are so useful for makers.

Our aspiration in working with the existing structure and surrounding yard is to contribute a new layer to this existing mix, for the benefit of generations to come.”

Notes for Editors About Cockpit Cockpit is London’s leading centre for craft and the UK’s largest, most diverse cluster of makers.

Home to 163 professional makers, Cockpit bridges the gap between talent and opportunity, providing affordable studios and business coaching to empower the next generation of craft practitioners to succeed.

We equip talented makers with the tools to succeed: specialist, subsidised studio space and equipment, in house business coaching, and public showcases. We work with hundreds more makers UK wide through careers programmes, outreach, training, and consultancy.

Highly sought after, a place at Cockpit is a mark of quality. The organisation has launched the careers of some of the biggest names in contemporary craft. Welcoming thousands of visitors each year, it is a place to discover the stars of the future.

Cockpit is recognised as a UK top 100 social enterprise on the NatWest SE100 index 2021 and is proud to be a London Living Wage employer.

About Cooke Fawcett

Cooke Fawcett Architects was founded in 2015, combining the significant experience of its two directors in cultural buildings, housing developments, and commercial office and research buildings. After working together at Stirling‐prize winning practice Herzog & de Meuron on major projects in both Basel and London, they are now based in central London.