For the London festival of Architecture 2015, Richard Brown exhibited an imagined proposal for the future development of Vittoria Wharf, one of Fish Islands most treasured creative factory complexes.

The exhibition asks, what would development look like if it were planned, designed and managed by its own community? Vittoria Wharf, Fish Island featured as one of Hackney Wick and Fish Island’s distinctive cultural factory complexes in Richard Brown’s Creative Factories 2013. However, new waves of residential led development all across Hackney Wick and Fish Island now threatens to demolish some of these factory complexes, along with their communities. This proposal takes the principles set out in Creative Factories, to depict an alternative, community led vision for Vittoria Wharf. The drawing advocates that retention of cherished industrial buildings, mixed use yards, canal moorings and encourages the creation of managed work-live housing for start-up enterprises. VITTORIA WHARF ILLUSTRATION COMPRESSEDIMG_8582



6-9pm Fri, 12-6pm Sat & Sun 2nd & 3rd August

Arebyte Gallery, Unit 4, 49 White Post Lane, E9 5EN
The ‘Roaming Work-space’ is a 31sq ft mobile cabin on
wheels built out of reclaimed materials found in Hackney
Wick. Hosted by Arebyte Gallery for the duration of the
festival as an enclosed installation featuring the work of
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori and Nimrod Vardi on the theme
of the ‘Dream Home’. On the closing night, there will be
an evening of short films curated by Carmen Billows. The
works will be projected from within the cabin onto an
outdoor architectural surface, featuring artists working
thematically around the current urban regeneration
processes and the metropolitan area as a contested

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The ‘Conservation factory’, is an installation made for the V&A ‘Hackney Wick Take over‘ highlighting some of Hackney Wick and Fish Island’s most occupied and productive landmarks, through illustration, mapping and model making. Step inside to uncover how these innocuous buildings hide within them, secret worlds of creative production.

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Please sign this petition to support this designation here:


We should applaud the LLDC’s effort to extend the areas existing conservation areas, because it is a key strategic move towards retention of the areas ‘factory town’ character and potential to continue a legacy of production, be it creative or industrial. Continue reading

Hackney Wicked 2013 The Cabin Gallery Presents…

The popup exhibition reflected in Haidee Drew's ara mirrors

The popup exhibition refle cted in Haidee Drews 'ara' mirrors

'Box Factories' by Haidee Drew

Box Factories' by Haidee Drew

Organic Wick Food Stall

Organic Wick Food Stall

The Cabin Gallery exhibition

The Cabin Gallery exhibition


The cabin Gallery at Vittoria Wharf yard

The Cabin Gallery interior

The Cabin Gallery interior

For this years Hackney Wicked Festival (2013), affordable wick’s roaming workspace has been transformed into ‘the cabin gallery’, an exhibition space featuring the collaborative work between Local artists, Haidee Drew and Richard Brown. Continue reading


 Neptune Wharf Proposals on show on the Roaming cabin

Neptune Wharf Proposals on show on the instant planning portal

Local Residents from adjacent appartment block discussing the Neptune Wharf Proposals

Local Residents from adjacent appartment block discussing the Neptune Wharf Proposals

Residents from Omega Works discussing the Neptune Wharf Proposals

Residents from Omega Works discussing the Neptune Wharf Proposals

Neptune Wharf proposals on show inside of the mobile planning department

Neptune Wharf proposals on show inside of the mobile planning department

Comments left inside of the instant planning department

Comments left inside of the instant planning department

Planning on the move past Stour Space galleries in Fish Island

Planning on the move past Stour Space galleries in Fish Island

Planning on the move

Planning on the move

Planning on your doorstep in Fish Island, Hackney Wick

Planning on your doorstep in Fish Island, Hackney Wick

Instant planning portal on its way to Neptune Wharf

Instant planning portal on its way to Neptune Wharf

Until Wednesday 17th July, the affordable wick cabin has morphed into an ‘instant planning portal’ for Hackney Wick and Fish Island. Continue reading

Cabin on the move

Roaming Workspace going over the hill at Wansbeck Road

Roaming Workspace going over the hill at Wansbeck Road

Pop up market at Stour Space designers market
Roaming Workspace at Stour Space Designer Market

Roaming Workspace at Stour Space Designer Market

Roaming Workspace at The White Building

Roaming Workspace stationed outside of Crate Micro Brewery and Pizzeria

Roaming Work Space at the Yard Theatre

rk Space at the Yard Theatre for the launch of the hackneywick.org website

Over the last two weeks the Roaming workspace has been on the move from fish island to hackney wick, linking with other events and business along the way.






Tom Fletcher Re-Juice

Tom Fletcher Re-Juice

Wick Session Richard Brown

Richard Brown presents the fleeting creative classes

Beggars Banquet

The Beggars Banquet at unit one Vittoria Wharf

Maria from Assemble Studio

Maria from Assemble Studio on their affordable workspace

The Roaming Work Space

The Roaming Work Space at Unit One Vittoria Wharf

Inside the Roaming Work Space

RichardB Brown, and the Wick Newspaper team taking warm retreat in the roaming workspace

WICK SESSIONS are a series of talks, walks and workshops dedicated to Hackney Wick and its surrounding area, bringing together a wide range of voices and expertise.

For Wick Session#9 the ‘Roaming Work Space’ stationed itself at unit one Vittoria Wharf, the site of a compulsory purchase line between a creative artists’ community and future pedestrian & cycle bridge over the Hackney Cut canal to the Olympic Site. The discussion in this session was centred on the need for affordability in regards to affordable workspace.

Tom Fletcher presented his food recycling project, ‘re-juice’ made from discarded fruit and veg found at local wholesale markets. Maria from Studio Assemble presented their design for new build affordable workspace adjacent to their studio in Sugar House yard. Liza Fior of MUF architecture/art provoked a need for more responce to local planning applications while Anna Harding the chief executive of Space Studios spoke about the campaign against the relaxation of planning permission from office to residential, go here to sign the petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/eric-pickles-secretary-of-state-dclg-stop-the-conversion-of-offices-into-housing-without-planning-permission-2.

Richard Brown of AffordableWick presented  his propositions regarding sustaining creative communities by means of interim uses, particularly on the Olympic Park’s temporary use sites, some of which may be free for as long as 15 years.




 Parts of which presented at Wick Session#9

The creative classes are our urban developers, defining new ways of inhabiting forgotten parts of our cities, recycling old buildings from the inside out to make way for new innovative uses. They invest their time, their money and their efforts to unleash the potential in decrepit areas. Their actions exude cultural value, which ultimately prices them out of their own neighbourhoods.

I wonder if the creative classes could become ‘real’ developers from the grass roots, and whether these transient classes could find ways to reap what they sow?  Furthermore, what would be the effect of stabilising this phenomenon?

In Hackney Wick and Fish Island, the new ‘community right to bid’ act is enabling this discussion to start taking place. Here there is creative community beginning to take this position, hopefully giving landlords a run for their money.


Although they are a transient and delicate ecology, the creative classes do a lot more for city development than most realise. This drift of the creative classes in London  is one if its oldest stories in terms of regeneration; from Soho to Clerkenwell through to Shoreditch, each of these places have once been considered edge lands to the acceptable inner areas  of London. Their rise from cheap and dirty neighbourhoods, to gentrified high valued hot spots is a phenomenon well known to any long term Londoner.

This drift is fuelled by the need for affordable un-regulated space, and out of mutual interest it is one of collective swarming where, these classes occupy once vacant or derelict neighbourhoods bringing with them new economies of social, monetary and cultural value, in doing so, flagging areas as opportune.

Under the radar of local authorities and without their input or attention, these creative practitioners act as entrepreneurs, negotiating longer and cheaper leases from landlords lumbered with near derelict hulks. The ‘creatives’ invest heavily, with their earnings and their efforts (sweat equity) going into the fit out and occupation of buildings which they do not own. Landlords of industrial/commercial space see quick returns, with their buildings occupied by live/work artists paying almost a residential rate on space which may have previously been considered un-profitable.

From the ground level, new informal and transient neighbourhoods emerge, with old warehouse factories spilling with activity into yards and streets. Here the social and cultural economy is much more meaningful for young graduates looking to find their career path. At this moment, these areas are rich with gift economies and support networks, new creative businesses grow here and open up as independent galleries, studios, cafés and shops. This moment is inevitably short lived, as landlords very quickly see the dollar signs, leases become shorter and more expensive year on year. These buildings quickly become financial assets, destined for housing consumption; the first pioneering creatives struggle to keep up with the rents and eventually have to leave, abandoning their original investments, and taking with them nothing but their strongest of relationships.

There are signs of artists bucking the trend, In Fish Island a group of artists have successfully listed their factory complex as an asset of community value, giving them the time to try to gather funds to buy it, to then lease it back to the same tenants at a fixed affordable rate, who may self-manage it on communal terms. Suddenly, conversations about the sustainability of these kinds of places come into question. At a workshop I held in this particular factory plot, the most pertinent question was ‘who wants to stay here forever?’ The answer is simply ‘nobody’, communities such as these are born out of transience, and what is important in this context, is that after this community naturally moves on, then next one should have similar opportunities and ways of life as the current one.

Richard Brown




The artist occupied ‘Vittoria Wharf’ this year has become one of the first buildings in the UK to be listed under the new ‘asset of community value’ act. The listing which was achieved by the local gallery and studio space manager, Stour Space. The listing means that if and when the plot is up for sale, the landlord can only sell the property to a community interest group associated with the land within the first six months of that period.

AffordableWick held a workshop with Neil MacDonald from StourSpace and the leaseholders of the rest of Vittoria Wharf to discuss what this might mean for a community such as this, which has always been uncertain of its future.

Vittoria Wharf workshop

Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion

vittoria wharf complex

Ground floor plan of Vittoria Wharf, showing the notional red line boundary between palm lane for sale area(to the right), and LLDC owned property due for future construction of pedestrian/cycle bridge


Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion


Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion


Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion


Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion


Vittoria Wharf community ownership discussion

Event Flyer

Event Flyer


Before the olympic games in the summer 2012, A large portion of Vittoria Wharf was compulsory purchased by the Olympic delivery Authority, to make way for bridge over to the Olympic Site. The remaining half of this factory complex has been speculatively put up for sale, potentially jeopardising the dense creative community with its buildings, especialy StourSpace.

The listing as started the ball rolling for this community to find sources of funding to make a deposit, as well as time for defining a business plan. It is clear that, as it stands, the factory brings in more than enough money in rent to be able to repay a mortgage for its purchase. The question is who can or will buy it, and to what ends. A perhaps simpler solution would be if individual collectives where able to buy their own plots, but this seems impossible in this case, as it is the whole site which is up for sale, and most tenants are not in a position to desire collectively mortgaging their units. Instead, the creation of a non-profit communal entity led by the community, might mean a new kind of grassroots development which sustains the character of the area, influenced by social and cultural interests instead of financial gain for the few.

The workshop brought up many queries, regarding the community entity which would become the so called new landlord, how would this be led democratically? Also, if the tenants rents are paying a community mortgage, what happens when that mortgage is paid off ? Furthermore, what of the community? One of the most useful discoveries of this workshop, was that very few in the room would want to commit to buying their own unit, or even living here indefinitely. Instead, residents hope that when they move on, the same opportunities and lifestyles can be offered to those new creative practitioners and residents moving into the area.

Stour Space intend to create a community land trust with the aim to sustain the creative community here. The trust will hopefully enable affordable rents and security of tenure as they are the most fundamental means to keeping artists and creative production in an area. What night be acheivable, is commuity governance of an area where profits from rents go back to the community, and instead of cheap repairs and difficult negotiations with landlords, tenants will call the shots on what kind of changes happen in the block.

It is now crucial to define the terms of this Vittoria Wharf community, what is trying to be sustained, and what is realisticaly acheivable? The next steps for this process, needs community involvement, and the next meetings are already being planned for VWharf, with the aim of creating a local community interest group led by residents.