5th Studio have worked with the London Borough of Enfield and social entrepreneurs Bloqs to create the UK’s first open-access factory as part of the £6 billion regeneration in Meridian Water, London.
Bloqs is a brand-new facility providing professional makers and maker businesses with affordable workshop space, access to state-of-the-art equipment and the opportunity to become part of a supportive community of fellow makers.
Bloqs offers an ambitious new model for open-access working, economising space and facilities on a scale never done before, simultaneously maximising the scope of the businesses, organisations and individuals that use it.
The new facility – designed by 5th Studio in close collaboration with Bloqs – provides 32,000 square feet of workspace with an amazing diversity of facilities for woodworking, metalworking, fabric & sewing, engineering, spray finishing, as well as training resources and services such as courses, classes and hireable meeting rooms. This ‘making Manhattan’ is part new build and part adaptive reuse of a former vehicle testing facility. The light-filled building is 8 -metres tall with direct access to a service yard. New amenities open to the public include a café/event space and a shop stocking tools and materials.
William Morris – whose family home was less than a mile from the site – campaigned for better conditions for makers. In a pamphlet called The Factory As It Might Be (1884), he asks why a working environment shouldn’t be pleasant, safe, exhibiting “…on their outsides what they are for, reasonable and light work, cheered at every step by hope and pleasure”. In creating a light, clean and warm working environment based around cooperation and education, Bloqs achieves many of Morris’ aims.