Architects confirmed for £6m council remodel of Peckham’s library square
15 March 2021
Southwark Council is pleased to announce the architects who will be working with local residents to redesign Peckham Square as a vibrant public space that meets the needs and aspirations of the local community.
The project is the first under Southwark Stands Together, launched last year by the council in response to the injustice and racism experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and to the inequalities exposed by the pandemic. Local residents will be included at every stage of the design process, setting a new standard for representing the borough’s rich diversity for all future public realm and infrastructure projects.
Spheron Architects were selected from a strong shortlist of emerging architects practices from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The selection panel of local residents and young people were impressed by Spheron’s exciting and dynamic approach to design and real commitment to how they will bring together the views of local people. A unanimous vote was reached to appoint Spheron for Peckham Square.
Sydney Simms, panellist and Southwark Young Advisor, said: “I was so glad not only to find out that I had been offered a place a panellist, but that young people were included. Young people are a key part of our community and often our voices go unheard. Peckham Square is a central place and the future of it will affect everyone including young people as we are the future, that’s why this opportunity was so important to me, a young person living in Peckham.
“Being able to be a part of the interviewing process, I’m confident and fully support the decision of Spheron taking on the project as they understand the value of Peckham Square and want to engage with all groups of people that use the space. Moving forward, I look forward to being a part of the design process and encourage other young people to get involved too.”
Mickey Smith, panellist and Peckham venue owner, said: “As a long-term Peckham resident, I always thought that Peckham Square had so much potential, but was desperately underused. When I was asked to help interview architects for the project, I jumped at the chance and for me, there was only one real choice: Spheron.
“Spheron’s attention to detail, understanding of Peckham, and full comprehension of the complexities of and positive potential of the square was music to my ears. I hope they deliver a space that is truly community-centric, safe by day as well as night, and set up to allow for the flourishing and celebration of the creative arts and Peckham’s unique Peckhamness.”
Changes to the public realm will complement and enhance plans to deliver much-needed new housing and a new gallery space around Peckham Square, which are already underway. These improvements will build on the investment already made by Mountview School of Arts and the University of Arts London, who both now call the area home.
Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Planning and Transport at Southwark Council, said: “We’ve long held an ambition to enhance the public square outside Peckham Library, ensuring the square reflects the local community aspirations for the town centre.
“Our vision for this scheme puts local people firmly in the driving seat, from interviewing the architects to putting their design ideas forward before pencil has touched paper. By using innovative approaches to consultation that reach all corners of our communities, especially underrepresented groups not best served by traditional methods, we will set the benchmark for representation and inclusion in all future development.
“I’m delighted by the appointment of Spheron Architects, who will be instrumental in increasing the presence and visibility of our diverse communities in fresh designs for Peckham’s iconic square which celebrate the area’s truly unique cultural and creative identity, and that all local residents can be proud of.”
Tszwai So, co-founder and creative director of Spheron Architects, said: “Peckham is one of London's most culturally diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods with a distinctive sense of identity, born out of a varied composition of geographies and shared memories.
“As a practice we champion the bottom-up design approach and share the vision of Southwark Council, which puts the aspirations of local people first, and responds imaginatively to those aspirations. We are coming on aboard not as the genius architect, but as the humble listener reaching out to the community.
“We very much look forward to helping the community recreate a much-loved square acting as a civic heart for Peckham in years to come.”
Cllr Cleo Soanes, who represents Southwark Council’s Peckham ward, said: “As the beating heart of Peckham, the square is an important and popular space that brings local people together.
“I’ve been so impressed already by how Spheron work as collaborators and look forward to their approach flourishing in partnership with young people and local residents. I have every confidence that this shared project will deliver a fantastic new square that reflects the needs of our diverse communities and where they all feel a sense of belonging.”
Public consultation on the new square will begin in March with a view to submit for planning by the end of the year.
Page last updated: 15 March 2021