HELLO! We are:
St. Margaret’s House
a unique community charity supporting creativity and wellbeing in Bethnal Green since 1889.
Our mission is to promote positive social change by creating opportunities for people to come together and play a more active part in their community. All of our profits go back into the community, enabling us to run volunteer programmes and support local individuals and organisations.
A DIVERSE CULTURAL PROGRAMME
We host a wide variety of events, including film screenings, gigs, open mics, spoken word nights, theatre and comedy performances as well as one-off festivals.
We see the arts as a route to community building, wellbeing and social change. Our workshop, the Create Place, is a rare animal in London: an inclusive space for the community to be together and share skills. We curated a great mixture of free weekly classes and one-off workshops and classes for everyone. We continue to develop, support and coordinate projects that respond to contemporary issues faced by the UK creative industries
Our wellbeing programme is designed to bring people together to improve their physical and mental health. Yoganest, our cosy studio provides an extensive range of low-cost yoga, pilates, and dance classes
AWARD WINNING VEGAN FOOD & DRINKS
We're committed to making delicious food that proves that a vegan diet doesn't mean missing out on your favourite dishes. Our Gallery Café has many locally-sourced options and a choice of drinks and baked goodies.
Ayoka, our very own charity shop is stacked to the brim with beautiful vintage and designer treasures.
Providing support to like-minded charities is as important to us as our community projects. By offering considerably below the market rates for office rental as well as access to all our existing facilities, we pride ourselves in being a charitable ecosystem at the root of positive social change in East London and beyond. We are now home to more than 30 different community organisations and charities.
Since the establishing of the practice in 1996, Sergison Bates architects have earned a reputation as one of the UK’s leading architectural practices, having successfully engaged with all dimensions of architectural and urban design rather than focusing on narrow specialisms.
They are currently involved in a wide range of projects at different scales, ranging from urban planning and regeneration to public buildings and housing in the UK and mainland Europe.
The work of the practice has been extensively published and exhibited and many of their buildings have won national and international awards. The practice has also won international recognition for ‘innovative developments in architecture’ (Erich Schelling Medal for Architecture) and architectural excellence (Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal for Architecture) and was recently nominated for the BSI Swiss Architecture Awards.
All projects are informed by a sensitive approach to place, the experiential potential of materials and construction and a concern for the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability. The design of places and spaces in the public realm has become central to their work.
Following a competitive interview, the Board of Trustees of St. Margaret’s House have invited them to develop this new and exciting project.
Enhancing the St. Margaret’s House heritage
As we continue to develop our extended arts and wellbeing programme, we are looking to the future, exploring the possibility of expanding our work with a new build that would help consolidate our existing community services.
We want to open up the site to new uses and new visitors as well as giving a better offer to current tenants.
There are a number of listed buildings at St Margaret’s House, including the fine Georgian terraces which face Old Ford Road and the small Chapel at the back of the site. This Chapel is currently blocked in by other, unlisted, poor quality buildings.
St. Margaret’s House exists in part to provide spaces for community groups to make use of. Demand for such spaces far outstrips supply in the area. Whether for community meetings, one-off events or arts workshops, the ground floor will house a large new hall, available to everyone.
St. Margaret’s also offers affordable office space to charities and third sector organisations. The first floor is to be another great office space, at sustainable rents, providing income for the other work of St Margaret’s House.
The best spaces are reserved for public use. On the top-lit upper floor, under the sculpted roof, is a suite of spaces reserved for arts and wellbeing. A varied programme of classes and events will be possible.
Will it be sustainable?
The aim is to make an energy efficient building, exceeding the standards required by the Building Regulations; a building that doesn’t need air-conditioning, and doesn’t need much heating or artificial light.
Water will be collected and recycled and the building is proposed to be made out of wood so its embodied energy is low and it acts as a ‘carbon sink’.
It also needs to work as well as possible so that it can be adapted easily to future needs. It needs to be economically and socially sustainable in order to be environmentally sustainable.
The building will be a timber construction with stained timber cladding. Wood is quick to build with and traditional, but the use of colour and big, bold windows and doors adds a theatrical element, inspired by some of the uses that are to be accommodated.
Will it fit in?
The proposed building has been designed to be both familiar and unexpected at the same time. Like the uses of the building, it is to be modest, but engaging - inviting and surprising. An elegant new object that fits in with its surroundings.
The building will be three storeys high, stepping down to one at the back out of respect for the neighbours. Located at the north edge of our site, it will maximise the courtyard space and open up access to the listed Chapel building.
Easy access for all
The new facilities are being designed to be as accessible as possible for as many people as possible. Level access from Old Ford Road, as well as a lift and wheelchair accessible WCs (and showers) mean we can expand on our current offer of services for those that have most difficulty to move around.
New cycle storage adds to this access strategy whilst also working towards the high sustainability targets we are aiming for.
HOW YOU CAN HELP shape the cultural landscape of Bethnal Green!
Get in touch
Tony Hardie, Director