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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas Everybody!

We have once again taken part in the Metropolitan Workshop Gingerbread Christmas Advent Calendar display - look out for number 21.

We were given the name of a popular Christmas song and asked to create a Gingerbread version.

We hope you like the result!

Durning Library Options Appraisal online - and exhibition on 'til 5 January

Durning Library Options Appraisal - help shape the future of your local library in Kennington.
Take a look and give your feedback here!
link: http://lambeth.gov.uk/consultations/durning-library-options-appraisal

Or visit the exhibition in the Library (opening times below)

Tuesday 23 December - 10am to 6pm
Wednesday 24 December - 10am to 1pm
Thursday 25 December - Closed/bank holiday
Friday 26 December - Closed/bank holiday
Saturday 27 December - 9am to 5pm
Sunday 28 December Closed
Monday 29 December - 1 to 8pm
Tuesday 30 December - 10am to 6pm
Wednesday 31 December - 10am to 5pm
Thursday 1 January 2015 Closed/bank holiday
Friday 2 January - 10am to 6pm

Thanks to all those who have taken part in the survey so far, and Season's Greetings from the team

Friday, 19 December 2014

2014 oh what a year!

A quick recap of our activities over 2014, and a thank you to all those who helped to make these projects happen.

We continue to enjoy unveiling aspects of London's hidden histories, exploring new or unknown architectural sites and opening people's eyes to the Built Environment and how they can have an impact upon how it is shaped in the future.

Revitalise Peckham Rye
- engaging local groups and consulting on plans for Peckham Rye Park & Common

My Haggerston
- a series of resources helping you to understand Haggerston and what happened to its built environment during WWII

Places of Worship
- a visit to Suleymaniye Mosque in East London and Sandys Row Synagogue with Year 8 from the Bridge Academy

Senior BEEs and Islington Heritage and Architecture Group Spring, Summer, Autumn terms

Wandle Treasure Hunt - visits to local archives with volunteers across Sutton, Merton, Croydon and Wandsworth

This is our East 20 - creating view finders with Mobile Studio, students from University of East London and Year 8 at Chobham Academy, the newest and only school on the Olympic Park site

Durning Library Options Appraisal - forging links with local institutions and individuals and assessing the needs and wants of user groups for this beautiful victorian Library. Working with Linda Florence to create a vinyl stained glass effect artwork for the windows - visit now!

Our thanks to our many collaborators and friends, volunteers and clients.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Wandle Treasure Hunt - 2 weekend slots in early 2015 to be announced - or come along on a Wednesday if you can!

The Wandle Treasure Hunt is a volunteer-led local heritage project where we identify lost treasures along the course of the River Wandle, which spans four London boroughs (Wandsworth, Merton, Sutton and Croydon).

Participants will be given free training in archival research. So far we have been identifying people's histories, flora and fauna, objects, listed buildings and industrial heritage artefacts as we establish what the 'treasures' of the Wandle are. The final selection will then be drawn by artist Stephanie Theobald and uploaded to a website with an interactive map.

We will be announcing dates for two Saturdays in January 2015 for those who are not able to make our Wednesday sessions.

Thank you to all our participants so far, it has been a pleasure meeting and working with you all, and hearing your stories of the Wandle River.

Upcoming dates in 2014:

2-4pm Wednesday 10 December
Croydon Archives, Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, CR9 1ET

2-4pm Wednesday 17 December Sutton Local Studies & Archives Centre
Central Library, St Nicholas Way Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA

Do email us or call us on 020 7608 0775 to book a place.

This project is delivered in collaboration with Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme as part of the Industrial Heritage Recording Project.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Durning Library Fun Day, Saturday 6th December 11am - 4pm

Join us on Saturday 6th December for a Fun Day at Durning Library, from 11am 'til 4pm

Come along and have your say about different design options for the Library.

See new artwork by Linda Florence, meet local artist Robin Whitmore and share your stories and facts about Kennington with him, view an exhibition by students from Year 4 of Archbishop Sumner Primary School.

Visit the upstairs flat!
Book now by calling the Library on 020 7926 8682
(viewings at 12pm and 2.30pm)

Free to all, tea and cakes a-plenty.

For more information please contact Marion Cable: MCable@lambeth.gov.uk

Work with us: Administrator (Part time) position available

Administrator (Part time)

Launched in 1996 and based in East London, the Building Exploratory helps people
discover the secrets of their local area and gain a better understanding of the buildings
and spaces that surround them. We have a strong focus on education and community
engagement and aim to create inspirational opportunities to help people shape their

We are looking for a highly capable and motivated person to take up this key role in our
small team. Covering all aspects of office management and administrative support –
from meeting and greeting visitors to the upkeep of databases, from purchase
management to financial administration. The successful candidate will work closely
with the Chief Executive on the co-ordination of board papers, the distribution of
marketing materials and the upkeep of our website.

The ideal candidate for this role will have at least two year’s administrative experience,
be meticulously organised and highly self motivated. We’ll also be looking for
exceptional communication skills, good computer literacy (particularly in an Apple Mac
environment), an ability to prioritise a substantial workload and evidence of a positive
approach to problem solving.

We offer a competitive package that includes a 22.5 hour working week with a flexible
approach, 25 days holiday (pro rata) plus statutory days, contributory pension and the
opportunity to be part of a great team which is committed to continuing your development.
To apply please send your CV and contact details for 2 referees (one of whom should be your
current employer) along with a covering letter explaining how your skills and experience qualify
you for this post. Referees will not be contacted prior to interview.

For further information please contact Caf Fean by email mail@buildingexploratory.org.uk
or call 020 7608 0775.

Job title: Administrator
Organisation: The Building Exploratory
Location: Farringdon
Salary: £22,000 - £25,000 (pro rata)
Type: Part time (22.5 hours per week)
Closing date: 5th December 2014

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Why can’t we have all our lessons out here in the park

“Why can’t we have all our lessons out here in the park?”

This is what Year 8 at collectively shouted as we headed back to school after our latest East 20 workshop. A year ago, these young people were pioneering students, the first year group to enter Chobham Academy, the first school to open in the Olympic Park.   

If the aim of the project is to excite the students about the opportunities in their school’s ‘back yard’, then I think we might have already achieved it.

Our challenge is to support the students in a search to find ‘places’ that are meaningful to them in this huge 560 acre newly formed site.  Four teams: #FishNet, The Great Banter, Anonymous and Banterlona, went where curiosity led them, heading for high points and searching out secret spots.

These are just a few of the lesser-known facts and places they uncovered on the Olympic Park:
  • The landscaped slopes are perfect for rolling down 
  • Tumbling bay playground appeals to people of all ages; there is no upper age limit
  • The rustling leaves of the surrounding trees in fact make Portland Lake the noisiest place in the park
  • You can literally lose yourself in a corner of Victory park… you’ll have to go to find out how.

Start points had previously been provided by a panel of speakers intimately involved in the design and maintenance of the park and its surrounding neighbourhoods. This inspiring panel included Kathyrn Firth, Chief of Design at the LLDC, Caroline Jupp, artist in residence currently based in a moving shed, and Nick Edwards of Fundamental. Even an imaginary alien who has just taken up residence in the park also made an appearance!

The places the students came across will become sites for large-scale viewfinders to be built in the next session. Quite literally watch this space…

Calling all volunteers! Wandle Treasure Hunt - join our local heritage project

Join us to discover how you can help us in our search for the River Wandle’s lost treasure !

Volunteers for our Wandle Treasure Hunt are invited to attend one or all of the following events
- please RSVP

11am Wednesday 26 November
Wandsworth Heritage Centre, 265 Lavender Hill SW11 1JB

11am Wednesday 3 December
Merton Local Studies Centre, Morden Library, SM4 5DX

2-4pm Wednesday 10 December 
Croydon Archives, Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, CR9 1ET

2-4pm Wednesday 17 December Sutton Local Studies & Archives Centre
Central Library, St Nicholas Way Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA

If you’d like to attend one of these events please get in touch: 

Tel: 020 7608 0775

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A trip to Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, Kings Cross

On Wednesday 5th November the Islington History & Architecture Group visited Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design in Kings Cross, accompanied by Aiden McMahon, the project architect from Stanton Williams and Linda Florence, Senior Lecturer at the college.

The group was captivated and inspired by the experience and it was wonderful to see such a building in full swing! 

The group really enjoyed Project Architect Aiden McMahon’s insights and explanations – helping to understand the building from an architect’s perspective and make sense of how the new building fits in with the old.

It was wonderful for us to see the building from Linda’s perspective: we visited the weavers, a screen printing workshop and the main 'street' space at the heart of the building. The building design allowed the group to see the building in action – looking down from above at the potters and jewellery makers: ancient crafts in a modern environment.

We also loved exploring the library – set in the historic granary building.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Senior BEEs - Heritage at Risk - Clapton Pond

Heritage at risk was the theme of the latest Senior BEE session when they met with Rebecca Barrett from English Heritage.

We invited Rebecca to talk to the group about the Heritage at Risk register – a database of neglected and decaying listed buildings and historic sites which is released every year by English Heritage (and has just been updated).

Rebecca explained how the register works, shared recent success stories and focused on some local examples of buildings at risk at Clapton Pond – where Pond House has come off the register but its neighbour the Bishopswood Almshouses have been added.

After the talk the Senior BEEs went over to Clapton Pond to take a closer look at the buildings, reinforcing Rebecca’s message that you don’t have to look far to find heritage at risk.

Friday, 31 October 2014

City & Hackney Older People's Reference Group Annual Event

On Tuesday this week Karen Elmes (lifelong learning officer) and Caf Fean (administrator) joined a number of other organisations at the City & Hackney Older People's Reference Group fourteenth Annual Event to talk to older people in Hackney, and tell them about what we do and how to get involved in the Senior BEEs programme.

A talk was given by Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care, Rebecca Clarkson of Connect Hackney, Genette Laws and Stephen Lowe of Age UK.

We caught up with a number of Senior BEEs, old and new, and the issue of mobility and access to cultural, heritage and architectural sites and places of interest was raised by quite a few visitors to our stall.

Our thanks to David Holland and his team for having us there on the day.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Update - Islington History & Architecture Group - Golden Lane Estate Walk

On Wednesday 22 October the Islington History and Architecture Group were given an insider’s perspective of the Golden Lane Estate during a tour led by urban designer and Golden Lane resident Fiona Davies. 

Fiona’s tour took the group all around the estate and into a couple of the flats which gave a taste of what it’s like to live there and they loved it. 

It was an eye opening tour which helped the group understand what makes the Golden Lane Estate so special – the thoughtfulness and attention to detail, the mix of housing types, the shops and community facilities, the clever use of space, the playful public spaces. 

The group were thoroughly inspired by experiencing design which has stood the test of time.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

This is East 20!

Two years on from the Olympics, the Queen Elizabeth Park is being handed back to its local community, and, excitingly, to fifty local teenage cartographers.

The twelve year olds are all Year 8 students at Chobham Academy, the new school within the Athletes Village – now East 20 Village.
Together with The Building Exploratory, LivingMaps and LLDC, they are creating a map to share what the Olympic Park has to offer other young people, and their hopes for its future.

In this first workshop of six for this term, Phil Cohen of Living Maps broadened everyone’s horizons to the incredible scope of mapping. In return the teenagers opened our eyes to a young person’s perspective of living in this corner of London: They drew fifty maps of the local area drawn from memory. No easy feat, but what they produced is fascinatingly insightful.

A taster of the memory maps: Friends, food and fashion feature highly!

Taking in a high rise panorama of the Olympic Park from the roof of the school.

Friday, 3 October 2014

We-hey come to Apple Day this Sunday 5th October!

We will be popping up at Roots and Shoots' Apple Day this Sunday, 5th October, to ask you your views on Durning Library, its services and how it can link with local people's needs and aspirations. Come down and join in the fun, £1 for adults and free for children!

Event details:

Sunday 5th October
11am - 4pm
Roots and Shoots, Walnut Tree Walk, Lambeth SE11 6DN

Art Workshop with Into University

Today we are visiting Into University, Lambeth to work with a group of their students. The work we do will inform an artwork that Linda Florence is going to produce, to act as a 'marker' for Durning Library in Kennington.

We look forward to working with the students, and seeing what beautiful commemorative tiles they create as part of the workshop today!

Our thanks to Into University for partnering with us on this project.

To find out more about our work on Durning Library, visit this earlier blog post.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Wandle treasures and walks

The Building Exploratory will be popping up at two events connected to the River Wandle this weekend, as part of our work with the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.


Come along to share your Wandle Treasures with us at Merton Abbey Mills, this Saturday 27th September from 12pm - 5pm!

We will be joined by the rest of the team, with activities for the family, and a free prize raffle. During the evening the community film, Vandalis, will have its first showing. 


Join us for a guided walk and discover over 2000 years of the rich and varied history of the Lower Wandle at Wandsworth. The Building Exploratory is leading a search for the lost treasures of the River Wandle as part of its Living Wandle 'Industrial Heritage Recording' project.

Walkers and project volunteers are all invited.

Timings: Meet 2 pm at Wandsworth Town Station
Contact: Dr Nicole Crockett - 07500 073 049

To book your place on the walk, please email: LivingWandle@wandsworth.gov.uk

To find out more about the Industrial Heritage Recording project please click here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pop Up Pop Up opens today, Senior BEEs visit tomorrow!

Tomorrow our Senior BEEs will be catching up with Artist Hilary Powell to see her latest enterprise “Pop Up Pop Up” as part of which Hilary has set up a production line to produce pop-up books charting an imaginative history of the changing area of the Lea Valley.

 “Legend: an A-Z of the Lea Valley “is inspired by the people, places, past and present of this urban territory and made with the collaboration of a team of 'pop-up apprentices' (see above picture).

Do go and visit Sugar House Studios, the home to Pop Up Pop Up this weekend and participate in the immersive theatre of making a pop-up book that itself constructs a fantastic and kinetic narrative of the area it’s made in and about.


Location:  Sugar House Studios, 107 High Street, Stratford, London E15 2QQ
The production line is free to visit and there is no need to book.


*** Flashback ***

Hilary Powell has worked with The Building Exploratory in the past, visiting Hilary's studio in 2011 and Winning Places, a project linked to O.space, a nationwide programme by CABE that  used the excitement around the Olympics to inspire people about architecture and the built environment. Tune in to Hilary's films, to see the Senior BEEs tell tales of their sporting triumphs and challenges, and track their progress as they meet the designers of the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Durning Library

Since June 2014 we have been working with LB Lambeth and Dow Jones Architects to support an Options Appraisal of Durning Library in Kennington. 

Our job has been to map out local stakeholders and to engage with local estate residents, organisations and library users to establish a wish list of services and activities that could take place within the Library.

We have appointed artist Linda Florence to create a temporary artwork that draws attention to the building and begins a discussion about its future, working closely with the local community. 

We have held our first event, attending Ethelred Estate’s Fun Day on Saturday 6th September. We met local residents and talked about their needs and how the Library could meet them: thanks to all who have taken part. 

There will be more events to follow, so watch this space!

Any thoughts?
To share your views, please email us at mail@buildingexploratory.org.uk with the Subject title: Durning.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Islington History & Architecture Group - activities recap

Our Islington History & Architecture Group has been busy this Summer term
Here is a brief recap of our activities, with some illustrative pictures. Our thanks to all the Built Environment experts who helped make these walks and discussions happen, and to our faithful Islington History & Architecture Group!

CZWG Architects Islington Square
For the first session we met with CZWG Architects for an introduction to their Islington Square project which will see the former Post Office North London sorting office (located just off Upper Street) transformed into housing and commercial space.

Lead architect on the project, Astrid Rehwald also took us on a tour of the old sorting office, exploring the building floor by floor right to the roof top which is to be converted into penthouse apartments.
Seeing the building in its current derelict state was an evocative experience and helped us to visualise how the development will take shape.

Read a blog post about this visit here <http://buildingexploratory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/czwg-show-islington-history.html> .

Former Hornsey Road Baths
We have also been to see how the Former Hornsey Road Baths have been imaginatively converted into a venue for young people called Platform. Complete with a theatre, performance space, recording studio and a café (which is open to the public so do visit if you are in the area) it made for an inspiring visit for all ages.

Housing Strategy in Islington talk
Islington Council's Hitesh Tailor (Principal Housing Policy Analyst) and David Jump (Commissioning Officer, Islington Council Supporting People Team) gave the group a talk about LB Islington's housing strategy. The presentation generated a great deal of discussion about a wide range of housing issues including affordable homes, new housing developments, the private rented sector, the impact of a transient population the development of a housing strategy for older people in Islington. You can find out more about the Council's plans by clicking here <http://www.islington.gov.uk/services/housing/newbuildimprovinghomes/policiesandstrategies/Pages/default.aspx> .

Islington Council are currently working on a Housing Strategy for older people and would like older Islington residents to fill in a questionnaire to help inform the strategy, if you would like to take part in the survey please contact david.jump@islington.gov.uk

Tour of Canonbury
Billy Hurley-Reading from English Heritage took us on a fantastic tour of Canonbury, beginning at Canonbury Tower Billy’s tour talked us through the history of the area’s development from Tudor times to today.  The tour focused on the fascinating architectural heritage of the area and revealed some of Canonbury’s past residents. Billy’s passion for architecture and conservation is infectious and we all learnt how to spot relieving arches and can now date homes built before 1843 by looking at window details.

Arundel Square
For the final session of the summer term we met in Arundel Square to see how the see how the Building Exploratory involved local people in shaping the public garden. This was also an opportunity to see a housing scheme by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (who we visited earlier this year), a development which completed the final side of the Victorian square that had never been built. It was a relaxed end of term session and we enjoyed looking at old photos to see how the square has changed over the years and debated the new housing scheme - the consensus was that it made a positive addition to Arundel Square. We loved how a concrete slab built over the railway line as part of the development doubled the size of the green space to improve a much loved local park.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Building Exploratory seeks Freelance Associates

The Building Exploratory is a highly regarded learning and engagement organisation with a focus on the built environment. We believe that creatively engaging local people with architecture, heritage and planning is essential to successful neighbourhoods.

Our community engagement projects ensure that local stakeholders can celebrate their local area and inform local regeneration. We are beginning a number of new projects with communities across south and east London and we are looking for experienced freelance associates to help us. The following combination of skills and experience is required:

• Project management and administration
• Communication written and spoken
• Engagement and negotiating skills

• Experience of delivering projects in secondary schools
• Experience of recruiting and working with hard to reach groups
• Experience of overseeing digital media projects
• Experience of overseeing creative project outputs
• Experience creating and working with maps

• Knowledge of secondary school curriculum in Humanities and Arts
• A good understanding of the use and value of maps and mapping
• A good understanding of London’s heritage and built environment

If you have the necessary skills and would like to be considered for one of our roles, please send us your CV and a letter, no longer than one page of A4 please, outlining your suitability to “the Administrator” by 15 August 2014: mail@buildingexploratory.org.uk

Hours are flexible, one to two days per week, with some weekend work required. Day rates are dependent on experience and levels of responsibility.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wonderful Wild Flower Walk with Bob Gilbert

On Friday 20th June we took a walk from Hackney Wick station through to the Olympic Park with Wild Flower expert and author of The Green London Way, Bob Gilbert.

Bob began his talk by discussing Hackney Wick with us. Wick being the old name for farmstead, Hackney Wick has always been set apart from Hackney, a kind of edge land by the River Lea. It used to denote the boundary between Middlesex and Essex.

'Dirty' industries took root here (tanneries, factories), with noxious fumes carried away by the prevailing wind. It is an area of great character, independence and industry.

Bill pointed out Geranium Pratense (purple flowers) growing on the bank by Hackney Wick station - these are commonly known as Crane's Bills.

Buddleja and Alianthus ('the tree of heaven') were pointed out to the group

By the Canal, Bob showed us some Mallow which sounds like 'mellow' and soothing / calming effect on the nerves. Marshmallows were made from taking sap of marsh mallow and mixing it with sugar.

'Adam and Eve go up your sleeve' - watch as this ear of corn creeps up your sleeve. Bob used to call these caterpillars in his youth.

Gipsy wort is also found by the canal (green) - rub the leaves into your hand and green dye appears. Gipsys washed in the canal waters and this may be what contributed to their swarthy tans.

Bird foot trefoil (yellow) country name: eggs and bacon (red buds)

Before we waved goodbye to the plants, Bob identified Achillea millefolium, otherwise known as Yarrow. In ancient myth, Achilles had healing powers - Yarrow was known to  staunch the flow of blood: it is still used to treat nose bleeds today, as well as being used to flavour beer.
Snuff was made from it, and it was told that one could tell the future with this plant. Put it under your pillow and you will  dream of the person you are going to marry.

Bob then asked us to recite an ancient rhyme, whilst sticking this green plant up our noses!

Yarrow way yarrow way
Bear a white blow
If my love loves me
My nose will bleed now

No nose bleeds, which left some of us worried!

Bob found some Elder - dwarf elder - or also known as Dane Wort - some say that the Elder sprung up on the blood of slaughtered Danes at King Alfred's defeat of the Danes.

We passed the famous matchstick factory, at the end of our walk: Barbara Windsor's grandmother worked here.

Our thanks to Bob Gilbert for leading a fascinating walk and to the Senior BEEs for their contributions and participation.