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Architecture students help transform listed building into arts centre

Civic Engagement Fund 2015

Civic engagement fund

The White House in Becontree is a Grade II listed building which was once the home of the Queen’s couturier, Sir Hardy Amies. UEL architecture staff and students spent last year investigating how the structure could be redeveloped to create a new arts resource for the community of Barking and Dagenham.

Using the approach of “the artist as your neighbour”, the goal is for the White House to eventually provide physical space for artists and an open studio-style room for community activities. Its design will take into account the community setting and the needs and concerns of local Becontree residents and businesses. Space will be provided for meetings, talks, seminars, educational programmes and a range of cultural events reflecting the interests of the area’s diverse population.

UEL collaborated with arts advocate Create London on a feasibility study to determine the necessary steps to transform the White House into an arts space. Funding from UEL supported a series of summer workshops that allowed students to engage with the house and the local community. This provided Create London with a body of knowledge that will be used by artists when they eventually take up residency at the centre. It is estimated the reach of UEL's work will extend to over 100,000 people.