How we add value

A long, long, long time ago, in November 2013, under a coalition government and when we were all younger and lighter, Transport for London approached us with a tantalising and highly unusual offer to come and look at one of their Air Raid Shelters. Yes that’s right their Air Raid Shelters.

They approached us as at the time when we had just won planning for converting the Victorian toilets at Clapham Common into a Wine Bar and Pizzeria http://www.wcclapham.co.uk/ and http://www.joepublicpizza.com/ So is seemed we were the perfect fit for this subterranean adventure we were about to embark upon with our new client.

Our knowledge of the local area and the strong relationships we had formed with the local community had proved beneficial to our client on the Toilets project and these would prove equally important on this project, creating new relationships within projects is key to their success.

So we popped along to Costa at Clapham South on a cold winter morning for what turned out to be a pretty amazing adventure. Hosted by Philip Aish our client at TFL for the project we were taken on a whirlwind tour of the Air raid shelter. We enter through a side door underneath the stunning apartment block by Ipsus Developments, into a time warp. Down 30 meters into the ground with Tube trains shuddering above we relived the fear, trepidation of those involved in the blitz.

The Shelters at Clapham South, designed to house up to 8000 key workers during the Blitz remain virtually as they were when they were last used in 1951, by of all people, school pupils from across Europe visiting the festival of Britain (they left lots of time sensitive graffiti). The shelters have a fascinating history from there various uses to protect the people of London and helping to house the Windrush generation. Caribbean Commonwealth workers coming to Britain to help rebuild the country after the war lived here before decanting to Brixton and the surrounding area. Windrush Square in Brixton commemorates the 50th anniversary of this.

All this history needs to be shared and finding ways to do this in an economically sensible way takes time, patience and a lot of creativity. That’s where we played our part in the team. Working alongside TFL and the London Transport Museum we created exciting visual content to start discussions with the planners, the local interest groups and more importantly to get the financial team interested in the viability of the project. This is where the true value of our skills is added.

Our passion and vision for the project and its amazing history then took us to all manner of meetings to gather up interest and sell our vision, which was constantly evolving to take into account the changing brief and listening to the thoughts of the local community.

After months of hard teamwork we produced a scheme in readiness for a formal public consultation, held next to the site on Clapham Common, the proposals were really popular and the public were hugely supportive. Architects, Planning Consultants, Heritage Experts and the client all took part in the Consultation and had a great time.

Sometime later once we had fully taken on board the opinions of the public we submitted a planning and listed building application to the local planning department and we’re lucky enough to receive permission in December 2015, just a little while after winning the job!

This is how the scheme was described by the people from the local area

‘an imaginative scheme, well thought out, which provides an enticing restaurant/cafe, sensitively perched on top of the Listed Grade-II* rotunda and glazed in a spiral motif with views out over the Common. The design for both the restaurant/cafe and the exhibition space is sympathetic to the historic context and well handled’

Peter Schmitt, on behalf of CCMAC

‘The proposals are welcomed; the design is imaginative and effectively extends the structure to provide attractive spaces for new activities without compromising it's special historic and architectural interest.’

Clapham Society

This job shows the skills and the added value POW Architects bring to projects, our passion, dedication and creativity helped push the project forward through many hurdles and we are very much looking forward to building this out once the Common Land Consent is secured.

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