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London Festival of Architecture- OPEN DAY REVIEW

For those who know me, it won’t be news to you that I am COMPLETELY obsessed with my studio in the Old Library in Orpington. Nearly as obsessed as the day I moved in during 2020 and revealed the beautiful parquet flooring and original bookshelves. (Have I ever stopped talking about it since?)



For me, the opportunity to open the doors as part of the London Festival of Architecture and showcase not just my studio but the other creatives in the building, including those in the stunning and historic (adjoining) Orpington Priory was a complete no brainer.



When queried about what my goal for the Open Day would be, it was easy to explain. Even though it’s coming up to 4 solid years since I got the keys and I wasn’t even the first occupant to move in, the consensus of the general public is that the buildings are not in use. That couldn’t be further from the truth.



Pretty much every studio is occupied and the variety of the independent businesses are so vast and vibrant, I feel it is my duty to share this further.



I think there is a strong emotional connection to how the buildings were previously utilised with full public access to the museum and library. I feel it is important to remind people that may have used these services in the past, that the buildings life with renewed purpose continues. So, when there is a chance to invite people through the doors and engage with the resident creatives, I don’t feel it’s an opportunity we should turn down.


I want to connect with the public to inform them about this buzzing, creative community with services and activities they can take advantage of.



Access isn’t straight forward as you can’t just rock up and walk through the door. However you can visit via appointment (best to contact studio holders directly- see bottom of this post)


This demonstrates why continued events like the Open House Festival and the London Festival of Architecture are so important in enabling accessibility and showcasing the energy and colour within the buildings.


The very successful Orpington Alternative Market - organised by Atru, is also a wonderful example of how the public can continue to engage with the site, although individual studios are closed off it still draws the crowds in to enjoy the wonderful fares and enjoy the atmosphere of the buildings and grounds. The next one is the 13th of October! Please join the above Facebook group for more details!


THE DAY ITSELF

The Open Day was a wonderful chance to harness the history of the building. Hourly tours from the Orpington and District Archaeological Society were incredibly popular.

This continued relationship with the Archaeological Society and the Historical Society at previous events is vitally important. Although the building’s purpose has changed, maintaining the heritage and links to the past is crucial.



This married well with the Orpington May Queen Performance, showcasing heritage and history in a different way with the young generation coming through.


Although a rainy day, we can’t go ahead without mentioning the amazing work the Friends of Orpington Priory Garden’s do alongside Idverde , maintaining the amazingly historic grounds and gardens. I pinch myself every day knowing my studio is located so close to such beauty.



On the library side we had open studio’s and stalls from some of the Clay Room Orpington Pottery Members,

Lucille, Nina and Titilope had ceramics for sale and Rebecca Gray Millinery had her hats on display.



Down the corridor Jack had his studio open and at the other end, Jen A Suyi showcased her work. Atru provided some super engaging workshops and Pyro demo’s. The Witches bells were particularly popular.




My studio was utilised by Fay demonstrating the power of sound relaxation as I enjoyed meeting visitors as they came through from the Priory side! Especially those that greeted me with Coffee ;-)




You could pop your head in the Orpington Clay Room as the session was running during the morning and there was also a beautiful array of TS Design Studio’s upholstery positioned in the Garden Room. There could have been an opportunity for Community Yoga from Tula Balance to take place, which would have been stunning in the grounds, but the weather had other ideas.


REIMAGINE


The theme of the London Festival of Architecture was “Reimagine” and alongside my helpers of the 8 and 5yr old variety, we created bunting and decorations to adorn the corridors. As the paper was originally a photographic backdrop, the scale allowed for true self-expression. The large brush strokes and bursts of colour were then cut up into smaller shapes to make the bunting and leaf decorations. The idea was the outside garden was bursting through the studios, definitely bringing the “outside in” vibe to life. The building had already been reimagined from a Library to studio’s and this was just enabling it to be reimagined further with colour, pattern, and vibrancy!



The large paper was also used on the day for communal drawing sessions where the guests of all ages were invited to some mindful drawing time! Due to the scale, it was like a carpet of pictures and I am very keen to enable large scale drawing in the future as the playful style and freedom went down really well!



The overall feedback was so positive and the day was a great success! Thank you so much to everyone involved. I really enjoyed all the conversations and connections and I am hopeful and excited for the future. With reflection here are my objectives going forward.


  • Continual participation in Open Days linked to the Open House Festival and London Festival of Architecture.  

  • More utilisation of the community space for events and meetings although we must be mindful of its “Listed” status.  

  • Improved awareness of this Creative Hub in Orpington.




Not everyone was able to join this open day due to availability, but here is a full listing of the occupants, Please contact directly if you are interested in their offerings!



 

Event Supported by V22 and Orpington 1st


All photo's credited to Orpington 1st and my own personal selection!


Thank you!!

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