'From the outside you see this long neutral building covered with graffiti, but inside it's this warm characterful space.'
The building in question is a redundant 1910 brick ticket office (pictured) beside West Hampstead Tube station which Jude Kelly, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is converting into a work centre for artists.
When Kelly discovered the building it was being used by an elderly metal worker who had helped to make Anthony Caro's early sculptures.
Inspired by the interior, 'a Dickensian space with an extraordinarily powerful atmosphere', Kelly persuaded the owners that instead of converting the building into offices or yuppie flats they should seize the opportunity it offered to bring about regeneration through art.She won her argument and was given the £250,000 it would cost to convert the building - largely a process of stripping out additions to restore it to its original state.
She took friends to see it. Jonathan Glancey was impressed, Cedric Price stressed the importance of 'releasing the energy of the place', and David Hockney insisted she 'recreate as much light as possible through the roof ', which Kelly likens to an upturned boat.
The building will be a home to a mix of media activities, 'a space for developing work across all art forms'. Aga has kindly donated a stove, symbolic of 'the warmth of ideas - conversation, food, art'. The centre is close to completion.Kelly has christened it 'Metal'.