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Carl Turner Architects unveils designs for artist studios in Olympic Park

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Carl Turner Architects has revealed designs for a canalside cluster of artists’ studios and workshops in the heart of East London’s Olympic Park

Designed for social enterprise Make Shift, the Clarnico Quay project would see warehouses arranged around a wide courtyard on a 6,110 sqm site across the water from Hackney Wick.

The warehouse buildings will be home to mix of artists, makers, small businesses and local community groups as well providing room for two restaurants, a pub and a food hall with street food kiosks.

The project, comissioned by landowners the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and developer East Wick & Sweetwater Projects will be there until 2025, when it will be turned into housing.

Carl Turner, founding director of Carl Turner Architects, said the scheme aimed to reprovide some of the kind of affordable creative space being lost in Hackney Wick as artists studios are replaced by housing developments.

Turner described how the buildings, inspired by area’s canalside and industrial history and made as far as possible with recyclable materials, would be purposefully ’low key’ so that they could serve as a blank canvas for artists to customize them later.

There will be a lower level opening out onto the River Lea alongside a communal garden and a brand new skate park to replace a much-missed facility that had been removed previously in the area.

Clarnico Quay is the third partnership between Carl Turner and Make Shift, which transforms empty spaces into popular community spaces. Earlier projects include the multistory car park-turned cultural hub Peckham Levels and the Pop Brixton initiative.

Turner said it was interesting to make the progression from rusty shipping containers in Brixton to this newest scheme which feels ’more architectural and purposeful’.

At least 70 per cent of the workspaces on site will be provided to local residents and 20 per cent of the site’s studios will be provided at reduced rents for social enterprises and ’emerging talent’.

James Leay, Managing Director of Make Shift said the site aimed to create a ‘hive of activity’ with an emphasis on affordability and community involvement. 

When the site is redeveloped, Leay said he hoped that the project can be used as a ‘testbed’ to prove to developers that the tenants, or members, at Clarnico Quay are ‘secure and sustainable’.

’If you look at commerical property it’s very hard to get yourself a space. They want nice secure tenants like Pret a Manger and Tesco. This is about how we can grow our members and show they are important businesses so that permanent development will then reflect the local area,’ he said.

Jan Kattein Architects also worked on the scheme, leading the consultation and designing the landscaping for the community garden. 

If planning permission is approved, construction will begin in August and the project will launch to the public in April 2019.

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