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01  /   12   /   2015

Constructed throughout London during World War II, the rotunda at Clapham South was originally conceived to accommodate up to 8,000 key workers during the frequent air-raids across the capital. Excavated as two large parallel tunnels which would one day traffic trains, these underground chambers were divided in to 16 shelters, each named after a British naval commander.

Post-war labour shortages saw the arrival of the first economic migrants from the West Indies, in 1948, 492 workers arrived from Jamaica on HMS Empire Windrush and were temporarily housed in these shelters, before forming the basis of the strong West Indian Community in Brixton. 

Our skills to openly engage and work with the local community to develop a vision for this disused shelter allowed the wider community to feel genuinely engaged in the process, which ultimately allowed a smoother journey through the planning committee.


A Palette of soft and natural materials are used to feel light against the sturdy concrete structures and symbolise light coming out of the darkness of war. The design encourages community interaction with the building through an exhibition, cafe and organised tours of the tunnels, creating an asset for the local community. 

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