Battersea Arts Centre rewarded for inclusivity - Museums Association

Battersea Arts Centre rewarded for inclusivity

Community-centred approach to restoration recognised in design and architecture awards
Battersea Arts Centre, East Corridor and Grand Hall
Battersea Arts Centre, East Corridor and Grand Hall Fred Howarth

The restoration of Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in south London has won an award for its inclusive and community-centred approach.

The centre, which was the Overall Winner in the New London Awards 2020 for design and architecture, has undergone a 12-year transformation, which has seen £13.3m spent on remodelling the Victorian building. Architect Haworth Tompkins has worked on the whole project, which has aimed to make the venue more vibrant, welcoming and accessible.

The international jury of architects, critics and cultural figures said: “The inclusive nature of the project signifies a new community-centred era for cultural buildings. It wasn’t just a restoration, it was a dedication to innovation, to craft, yet a really thoughtful way of evoking the spaces that were there before.

“You can read the story of the building by looking at it. It communicates to the visitor on so many levels and does that by being of service to a community.”

In 2015, before the capital project was completed, the building’s auditorium was destroyed by a fire. As a result, the Lower Hall area was redesigned into a new creative co-working space. This has provided a home for local businesses, start-ups, artists, creative companies, charities and social enterprises in a Covid-secure environment this year.

In February BAC became the world’s first Relaxed Venue, an initiative to identify and dismantle the barriers faced by disabled people, based on the social model of disability.

BAC, which includes the collection held at the now closed Wandsworth Museum, encourages people to test and develop new ideas with members of the public – a process called Scratch.

The New London Awards are run by New London Architecture, which aims to improve the quality of people’s lives by making London a better place to live, work and visit.

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