Type: Community

Client: Clapton Commons

Location: Hackney, London

Status:  Completed Oct ‘23

The Common Rooms

A constellation of spaces in the undercroft of a listed church that create a new home for the community in Stamford Hill.

Public and social spaces are vital to our individual and collective wellbeing, helping to foster mutual understanding,  combat loneliness and create healthy and happy communities, but our communities are suffering from years of underinvestment in social infrastructure. In Stamford Hill, a diverse corner of Hackney, the charity Clapton Commons was created to address the lack of community spaces in the area, building a network of local people that actively participate in the production and management of spaces for people to come together.

The listed St Thomas’ Church is in the heart of the neighbourhood, with an atmospheric modernist nave designed by  N F Cachemille-Day in the late 1950’s. Below the church lies an expansive and underused undercroft. The Common Rooms transformed this space, catalysing the renewal and rebirth of the church as a building rooted in the community. Artefact collaborated with St Thomas’ Church and Clapton Commons to create a new home for the community, collaboratively developing ideas for fundraising which was secured through Spacehive crowd-funding and support from the GLA, Hackney Community Fund and The Clothworkers’ Foundation.

The Common Rooms were erected from cost effective materials, carefully detailed to ensure the space feels bespoke. Partitions were constructed from off-the-shelf timber sections, with polycarbonate celerestory windows, their detail and rhythm echoing the design of the garden room in the church above. Wood wool panels help to absorb sound across the large spaces, and a joyful colour palette help to enliven the undercroft which has limited daylight. A bold blue column with expressed copper piping in the centre of the space creates a moment of curiosity, as it supports the baptism font of the church above. The servery projects from the kitchen into the canteen, celebrating the moment food is served. The Common Rooms is the first phase of the wider transformation of the church and parish hall, and the works to the undercroft are designed to be demountable should the requirements of users change in the future as other improvements are delivered.

“The Common Rooms has always been about more than just bricks and mortar and making an underused space look architecturally beautiful. That of course is important, but working with Artefact, we were able to develop a vision for a community hub as a space where people could come together, action could be witnessed, and hope could be shared in transforming the neighbourhood and the lives of people we work with. This is our common purpose - to give people more control over their lives and to foster a sense of shared ownership of civic and community space.”
- Joe Walker, Director of Clapton Commons

Contractor - PBL
Structural Engineer - Simple Works

Press and Publications:

Architect’s Journal, March ‘24
Architect@Work, March ‘24
Frame Magazine, February ‘24
FC&A, February ‘24
Archello, February ‘24
Wallpaper, January ‘24
Architecture Today, January ‘24
On Office, January ‘24

Jim Stephenson
Dan Weill
Diogo Real


Spacehive Crowdfunding
Mayor of London
Hackney Community Fund
The Clothworker’s Foundation

© Artefact 2024