For me, Peckham aka ‘Little Lagos / Èkó kékeré’ is synonymous with empowerment.
Peckham was the site of my final Diploma project. Under the tutelage of Adam Khan, David Knight and Bernd Schmutz, our unit explored how shopping developments could contribute positively to the life and character of the streets in which they were situated and be defining, socially responsible parts of the city.
In my explorations into city making, I became captivated by the people of Peckham. Getting beneath the skin of the buildings and focusing on understanding the aspirations the vibrant locals had for the places and spaces they lived and worked in was the catalyst for me unearthing what my purpose within our profession could be.
On the odd occasions when I now have cause to travel thorough Peckham, I am reminded never to underestimate the power of local community groups to influence the places in which they live.
How does one take a keen interest in public service and social activism and respond to it in built form? Well, my outlet has become through the delivery of social ‘affordable’ housing.
When it became evident to me that architects were in the vast majority of cases not around the decision-making table, and due to the prevailing procurement system, wielded very little power and authority, I knew that I had to reposition myself to where I could more strongly influence and shape project outcomes. To achieve this, I had to become ‘the client’.
“If you can’t beat them, join them” they said, so I did. Now that I have joined them, I’m shaking things up from the inside!