Best Small Project
Winner: We Made That, UK
East Street Exchange, London, UK
Image Credit: Jakob Spriestersbach
‘Modest but great-value project, combining existing and new structures. Provides social and communal value with an intelligent response to context, materials, graphics and scale.’ Sarah Wigglesworth
‘An ingenious little intervention with much greater effect than the sum of its parts. Cost-effective and fast to build, and a great way to energise a lacklustre public building. Despite its worthiness it is playful, beautifully designed inside and out and looks like a lovely place to be.’ Tina Norden
The East Street Exchange project has been delivered as part of a wider ‘What Walworth Wants’ strategy commissioned by Southwark Council and the Greater London Authority to make improvements to the area. The project — a bright red extension to the existing East Street Library — unlocks a new lease of life for an important community asset.
Located at a significant civic corner, East Street Library is a well-used public library facing under-investment and long-term relocation proposals. It was identified that much more could be achieved with just a little more space.
The extension, East Street Exchange, now allows the library to boost activity and host a flexible range of new uses. It offers an affordable space for local businesses, entrepreneurs and community groups; provides a flexible meeting space for groups in the area; and makes space for homework club and peer-to-peer language assistance.
The wrinkly, red anodised facade stands in stark contrast to the surrounding area. At night the perforated tower can be illuminated to create a beacon during out-of-hours use. The interiors of the extension are built to prioritise flexibility of use. Bespoke furniture has been designed with the potential to be ‘flat packed’ and stowed away on pegboard walls, clearing the space for alternative functions. Large new windows, glazed doors and an internal glazed screen maximise daylight within the Exchange, making the space feel more generous.
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