Market Street Studios, Walworth
The Badu family departed Ghana for London in 1985 where
they would set up home on the Aylesbury Estate. The intervening period brought them five children, small
local businesses, and a place amongst the area’s Afro-Caribbean community. In
2014 they were served a compulsory purchase order, with their home handed to
the council for demolition in 2020.
In a reaction determined to resist
the dispersive forces of gentrification, the family have launched a series of
empowerment initiatives for the local black community of which Market Street
Studios is one. Previously run as a second-hand clothing store, the shop has
been converted to become an event space where local groups and businesses might
arrange classes, shoots, and pop-ups alongside community meetings and talks. Brisco
Loran were engaged as both designer and contractor, learning to build and plumb
whilst subcontracting demolition and electrical works.
Our design discussions reached beyond the white-washed
template of the type to imagine a space of warmth and character, enriched by
its hosts and the rhythms of the market outside. Present in some form since the
16th Century, the bustling collage of East Street is conjured each morning by
stallholders flogging food, cosmetics, and clothing. Barrows are wheeled into position,
tarpaulins pegged up, and displays unfolded before the evening brings the
vanishing tide of street sweepers.
The new space is designed to accommodate a similar pattern
of use with beech-built chairs, tables, and folding screens hung ready for
selection, assembly, and arrangement by each newcomer. Central to the character
of the space is the cork floor; cut, dyed, and laid by Pandora and Thom using
an inexpensive twelve-inch square tile, two templates, and two colours. The
design of the pattern melds the striped tarpaulin of the market with a
traditional Kente cloth of the family’s own Ewe tribe.