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Spacia provide business space, via a portfolio of railway arches, to let for small and medium sized enterprises. Lewis & Hickey were briefed to address a site in South London that is seen as a barrier between community park space and the river from the local residents.

To break down this dissection, routes around and through the park have informed the concept, providing a visual connection either side of the viaduct to reduce its divisive impact. A café / bar in arch 143 promotes a pedestrian route through the park to the south bank of the river and converts to a community “hall” in the evening. A crèche/nursery performs a second community activity for the site. Here, pre-fabricated pods are pulled out of their arch on rails to increase internal play space and to define a safe external environment where the pods meet new landscaping in the park.

The design provides a flexible, affordable and comprehensive solution to the issue of inhabiting railway arches and their surrounding spaces. The pre-fabricated waterproofed and insulated units are craned into position and rolled into the arches on pre-formed rails which also provide drainage. These movable units address the problem of the periodic 6-year structural brickwork inspection and the issue of supporting linings physically within the brick arches. The shell structures can be stacked or used as upturned frames that can be formed into low-rise towers acting as visual landmarks to crossing points through the arches.

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