Studio 3 Arts
The borough of Barking and Dagenham is undergoing a massive transformation. As architects and Londoners we are aware of the regeneration that is happening within Barking Town Centre. Faced with an influx of investment as London looks to expand along the Thames Corridor, Barking finds itself at a crossroads. Earmarked for its cheap brownfield sites and good transport links, Barking looks set to become established as another commuter town. However, with the support of the GLA and with planned projects such as the Dagenham Film Studios there is seems to be an ambition to build upon the already established local infrastructure. With a forecast of 30,000 new homes and 10,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, the demographic of the town will undoubtedly change. This regeneration brings fantastic opportunities for the area although it cannot be at the detriment of existing local communities. Barking and Dagenham has a rich and diverse cultural identity built on the hard working spirit that comes with the industries based in the area. It is vital that local people remain play a role in the decisions being made within their community.
It is clear that the LBBD understand the important role creative industries have in the future of Barking and Dagenham with the creation of London’s first Artist Enterprise Zone, in which S3A have been presented as an exemplar organisation. Initiatives such as the arts spaces at the Ice House Quarter are to be commended however it is crucial that such institutions remain accessible and don’t isolate themselves from the existing town. What this project has to deliver is two fold; a world class arts centre and to maintain and strengthen its position within Barking at the heart of the local community. S3A and its important and diverse community is real and this project is not about gentrification but supporting and growing an already phenomenal organisation.
The proposed building cannot change the borough on its own but will be catalyst for change. We believe the position of the Studio 3 Arts Centre in the Gascoigne Road area is its strength. It is rooted in the very community it serves, a hub that can generate positive change in the borough from the bottom up. The centre must maintain its flexibility in providing a diverse arts programme but also by being the community centre people need. In such uncertain times it is reassuring to know that such organisations can provide a place of refuge and support for people that need it without judgement or discrimination. To grow already strong established bonds within the local area is an exciting prospect. Together with the growing national reach of the centre, S3A can become a beacon within the Barking and Dagenham community. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the centre and for us as Architects to be considered.