Cultivation and beauty at Waterloo City Farm

Words:
Eleanor Young

Feilden Fowles brings ‘distinct aesthetic’ to the inner city

  • The gable end of the farm’s barn and its main and uplifting elevation to the street. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Peter Cook
    The gable end of the farm’s barn and its main and uplifting elevation to the street. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Peter Cook
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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.

  • The character of this large covered space imbues events, whether education, community or fundraising with a sense of fun alongside the bales. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects.
    The character of this large covered space imbues events, whether education, community or fundraising with a sense of fun alongside the bales. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Credit: Peter Cook
  • Animal pens and growing plots. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Feilden Fowles
    Animal pens and growing plots. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Feilden Fowles Credit: Feilden Fowles
  • Evening event on the farm sandwiched between railway lines and flats. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Peter Cook
    Evening event on the farm sandwiched between railway lines and flats. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Peter Cook
  • Diagram of the long site showing the barn at one end and garden and practice office at the other with animal pens and growing beds in between. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects.
    Diagram of the long site showing the barn at one end and garden and practice office at the other with animal pens and growing beds in between. MacEwen Award shortlisted Waterloo City Farm, Lambeth, London by Feilden Fowles Architects. Credit: Feilden Fowles
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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.’

See more from the MacEwen Award

Credits

Architects Feilden Fowles

Clients Jamie's Farm and Oasis Hub Waterloo

Contractors

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