Riverside Studios received council funding in 1975 to become a community arts centre and has evolved and grown since with its own theatre, cinema and television production programme. With its vision to become a national arts and media organisation, the redevelopment proposal includes demolishing its current building and that of the neighbouring Queen’s Wharf and creating a mixed-use building across both sites, and will also accommodate 160 residential units.
With one group of students developing proposals for the new building and another group looking at ways that the arts and media centre can continue to engage the public whilst the studios are closed for redevelopment, the project focused on the role of the arts and culture within urban transformation processes and gave the students the chance to work with Riverside Studios as a real client.
“The project was treated as a live project,” explained Master of Architecture (MArch) student Catherine Griffiths. “We were able to listen to the views of the different stakeholders, and use them to drive our designs. We presented our projects to them upon completion and it was a unique opportunity and an experience which I really enjoyed.”
Catherine was part of the group that focused on the “time of hibernation” – the years that Riverside Studios will be closed to the public. Beginning with the theoretical objective of bringing a thriving artistic community to the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, she initially looked for inspiration in other areas of London.
“Every year our students conduct projects in cooperation with external partners to instigate a conversation with the wider public sphere," said Gabor Stark, senior lecturer and course leader for the MA Urban Design course at UCA’s Canterbury School of Architecture. “Collaborating with the Riverside Studios team, representatives of the council and esteemed London artists like the composer and conductor Richard Bernas and the playwright Peter Gill, who was the first artistic director of the Riverside Studios, was a great experience for students and staff.”
Riverside Studios is interested in pursuing a couple of ideas from UCA students, including Catherine’s, and want to realise the project by MArch students Aaron Bright and Emilio Koutsoftides, who also set up a Riverside Memories twitter page to continue to engage the public whilst the studios are closed. UCA and Riverside Studios are in discussions about further projects, such as a publication and a website to communicate the redevelopment process and the students’ ideas.