Learning to adapt

By James Cracknell - Wed 6 December 2017, 2:51 pm

In many places, derelict buildings remain so for years, until being converted to offices or housing. But in Southwark, unusual and ingenious uses are found for everything from abandoned car parks to court rooms, from libraries to power stations and from former printworks to power stations. James Cracknell reports.

The Mondrian London hotel was created from the former Sea Containers House building on the Southbank

Innovation and creativity continue to be shown in Southwark through the transformation of old and disused buildings.

Famous projects such as the conversion of the former Bankside power station into one of the world’s leading art galleries, Tate Modern, are well known.

But there are examples all over the borough of buildings that have been brought back to life with imaginative revamps and refurbishments, to be made fit for the 21st century.

Whether it's a biscuit factory converted into flexible co-working space, a printworks transformed into a venue for live music, or a magistrates' court re-styled as a luxury hotel, Southwark is a borough brimming with brilliantly restored buildings.

Peckham Levels could potentially lay claim to being London's most famous car park.

Since art project Bold Tendencies first took over the top floors of the disused multistorey and opened a rooftop bar called Frank's Cafe nearly a decade ago, the car park has become a symbol of this south London enclave's rejuvenation.

Half a million people have since visited the car park, and not one of them has needed to put a sticker on their windscreen.

This summer one of Bold Tendencies' flagship projects, The Multi-Storey Orchestra, once again welcomed the world-famous classical music festival, The Proms, to the Peckham landmark.

The building's new lease of life, with its iconic views of London's skyline and position in the heart of south London's cultural renaissance, is now arousing the interest of local businesses.

A longer version of this article appears in issue 18 of Southwark magazine

Click here to get a copy