[P]eckham Levels opens this weekend – transforming the much-loved multi-storey carpark into an ambitious culture and entertainment destination. Located across seven floors in Peckham, the brand new space features studios, workshops, street food, bars, entertainment and even a hair salon. If you’ve been to Frank’s or Bold Tendencies, you’ll know it also offers some of the best views in London.
Designed to celebrate the culture and talent in the local area, the majority of spaces will be home to artists and creatives who are from Peckham. With tenants including video platform GUAP Magazine, all girl-collective gal-dem and visual art charity, Into Art, it’s a unique mix which the team behind the project hope will lead to skill sharing and cool collaborations. We caught up with Community Manager Kwabena Amponsa to find out more about the vision.
Hey Kwabena, what's Peckham Levels all about?
Peckham Levels is formerly a multi-storey carpark now converted into spaces that people from the local area can benefit from. It consists of over fifty studios for artists, creatives and entrepeneurs. There are restaurants, bars, hairdressers and a wellness centre at the top, an auditorium space for talks, a gallery space, a kids play area and a community unit. Level five and six – which are the food and entertainment spaces – are open to the public all of the time.
How do you make sure that people from the local area are getting back from it?
Everyone in the building is contractually obligated to give back to the community with at least one hour of service per week – including kids club, helping the elderly and regular Levels talks to promote the sharing of knowledge and information. It’s local focused but also we want everyone to benefit from it and feel welcome here.
What’s the overall vision for the space?
To give business opportunities to creative people. People need space – each space was so oversubscribed. Affordable space is so needed in this area. In those fifty studios, ten of those are creatives in residence, people with amazing ideas who may not be able to pay market rate.
How do you hope that the creatives in the space come together?
That’s a big part of my role. Already we’re setting up get togethers for members. For the opening weekend, the members are all coming together to their curate their space. We have a platform called Holler which is an internal communication tool – if you need a graphic designer, or an SEO expert – you can put a message out on that and find who is in the building. Talks, skill shares, that’s what this building is about. The sum of everyone can create something powerful!
What do you think South East London is booming right now?
South East London has always been the underdog. It has always had so much creativity. It faces poverty issues like many places do. Put into the mix the art schools and institutions of the area, and you have a really unique situation. We’ve always known what this area had to offer, now other people are starting to recognise it too.
The rapid gentrification of Peckham is obviously something that people from the area are concerned about. How can this project redress this?
Change will happen, it always happens. Whether it’s Soho or Shoreditch or Bethnal Green or Tottenham, it is inevitable. What we’re trying to do is make sure see that while these changes are happening, that opportunities are given to people from the local area, that the knowledge is shared and that they feel like they can be part of the conversation. From a community perspective, if people stand together, it’s a lot harder for changes to happen that are not beneficial to all. On our side we’re trying to do this in the best way possible.
Who do you have in the space?
It’s a totally unexpected mix. We’ve got visual artists, musicians, videographers, therapists, yoga teachers, photographers.
What do you love about Peckham?
The energy, the potential, the level of diversity – there’s nowhere like it. You can’t get too many ideas about yourself here, or you’ll be told!
Find out more about what’s happening at the launch weekend over on the Peckham Levels website.