New England House is a purpose-built, publicly-owned, light-industrial skyscraper in the middle of Brighton. Built in the 60s to rehouse manufacturers caught up in the slum clearances, today it’s home to an incredibly diverse community of projects and people. Architects to art-restorers, bakers to blind-makers, woodworkers to wind-turbine testers, New England House is the kind of industrial community that regeneration departments dream about. We know this because we have an office in the building.
Yet it’s also seen as an eyesore by the wider city community, who have no idea about the activity going on inside. In the face of a forthcoming £24million regeneration of the building, we’ve begun a long-term project to bring the residents together, to help the wider city find out what’s made here, and to create new, bottom-up strategies for where the building can go next.
The first part of this project was Multi-Story Factory, an action research project that took the form of eight billboards, published on the walls of the building itself. Each one revealed a new facet of the building – the flexibility of the concrete frame, the diversity of the community, the culture of recycling and reuse within the building – with the aim of painting a new, more accurate picture of the community that exists here. You can see these billboards below, and download PDFs here.
Next, we’re pulling together an independent proposal to make sure that whatever regeneration happens to New England House builds on what makes it special (and put the ideas in billboard number 8 into practice). We’re working with the best architects, graphic designers and space providers to do this, along with the residents of the building and the council themselves.
We believe this building has the potential to become something amazing: sustainable, beautiful, public and industrious. A light-industrial community in the sky.
We create projects, publications and interventions to help make our cities, buildings and spaces work better.
We specialise in reactivating dead spaces; harnessing unused potential in a community; and getting inside the machinery of regeneration, and using its levers to come up with something more interesting.
We work with local authorities, private developers, architects and community groups. We believe regeneration should be useful, honest, simple and beautiful.
Spacemakers is led by Matt Weston and Tom James, and was founded by Dougald Hine. We're based in Brighton, London and Stockholm.
Along with our project work, we have a strong history of consultancy.
We’ve been part of the Greater London Authority’s Special Assistance Team since its inception in 2011. During this time, we’ve worked with London boroughs on projects as diverse as public space, workspaces, local economics and identities. We’ve also worked nationally, advising on market squares in Basingstoke and university campuses in the midlands. And we’re part of NESTA’s New Radicals, a network of radical organisations changing Britain for the better.
We’re often brought in early on, to work out what the right strategy for a project is long term. We use the experience we’ve gained from our own projects to advise others on how best to bring their buildings, spaces and communities back to life. We’re honest, we give critique and we have ideas.
We do feasibility, problem solving and ideas generation, from a single day to an entire year. If you have a project that could do with some new thinking, please get in touch.