Feilden Fowles brings ‘distinct aesthetic’ to the inner city
Waterloo City Farm has brought the pleasure of cultivation, husbandry and beauty to the deprived boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth where 59% of children live in poverty. What sets it apart from other city farms is the close involvement of practice Feilden Fowles. It worked closely with Jamie’s Farm and Oasis Waterloo to plan the long thin site – a meanwhile space owned by Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital. Between 2014 and 2017 the practice worked pro bono on first simple timber animal pens, then an office, and finally a large barn for teaching and activities. Along the way a short term lease for the practice office was agreed – partly in recompense for the work done - so the farm has also become Feilden Fowles’ home.
Drawing on her planning experience in Croydon, MacEwen judge Anisha Jogani understood how transformative this project was. ‘It is more than a physical transformation of the space. The form itself is programme and outreach, showing their focus on engagement.’ The charities’ focus is on improving education, using the farm to build self esteem among those at risk of exclusion from school; 30% of the students visiting it have been at risk of exclusion, but at the six week follow-up only 55% of those pupils were.
Raised vegetable beds mean that everyone can help grow food here. Volunteers help to draw everything together and the barn has allowed a wider range of public and community events including workshops, jazz evenings and markets.
The assurance and elegance of the architecture elevates the level of the whole enterprise. ‘It could have been very basic and dull, or industrial,’ said judge Hugh Pearman. ‘The architecture has made something of that. It becomes a timber structure that brings pleasure: maximum work on minimum means.’
Architects Feilden Fowles
Clients Jamie's Farm and Oasis Hub Waterloo
Pens – Nick Dowling; Barn - Timber Workshop and Mansel Land; Studio – Timber Workshop and Miles Builders
Structural engineer Structure workshop
Landscape designer Dan Pearson Studio
Lighting designer Re-Lit