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Grayson Perry-backed affordable housing for artists wins approval

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The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has approved plans by architecture studio Apparata for a new affordable housing scheme, championed by Grayson Perry, specifically intended for artists 

The £3.5 million scheme in Barking town centre features a community arts centre, studio spaces, and 12 ‘affordable’ flats leased at 65 per cent of the local market rent.

Originally entitled A House For Artists – a reference to FAT and Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex – the project will be developed by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s arms-length regeneration company.

The scheme is being driven by arts agency Create London, of which Perry is an associate.  

Perry said: ‘This is a golden opportunity for artists who want to work with the public. With the right artists working in a real place with real people, who knows where it will go? It’s a new artistic model.’

Perry will help to select the resident artists, who will be chosen through an open invitation and interview by representatives of Create, Barking and Dagenham Council, the Greater London Authority and independent curators. 

Create London’s director, Hadrian Garrard, said: ‘Artists in London are under more pressure than ever in terms of finding somewhere affordable to live. This new development will provide something new for London.

‘It will function as a community centre that will be run by the 12 resident artists in exchange for affordable, good quality housing.

‘This summer we will be putting out a UK-wide call for resident artists, which is an important next step for the project.’

Emerging practice Apparata is led by architect Astrid Smitham, who has worked in the UK and Switzerland, and Nicholas Lobo Brennan who studied architecture at the Cass and the Royal College of Art and has collaborated with Florian Beigel.

Astrid Smitham: “Our idea was to create a housing model suited for artists but also for anyone, with large openings, good ceiling heights, generosity of space and a high level of adaptability. Housing has to be able to support different ways of living, be more relevant to how people live today, and also be more capable of helping communities form, both within the building and in the local area.”

A future timescale for the project is not yet known. 

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Readers' comments (3)

  • So rather than create affordable housing for the local community this project is being opened up to UK-wide artists who will be afforded the privilege of these shiny new flats? Can that be true? What about the London artists who '...are under more pressure than ever in terms of finding somewhere affordable to live.'

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  • I'm an artist... who will be judging whether the artist's art is worthy of them getting a cheap flat? Will Perry sit on a judging panel? Is an architect an artist, or does it have to be paint? Conceptual/modern only or will my crossstitch count...?

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  • Phil Parker

    Kitchens are too small. Plans don’t work.

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