Walworth Town Hall
- Client: General Projects
- Architect: Feix & Merlin
- Contacts: Jan Donovan
- LPA: London Borough of Southwark
The Walworth Town Hall and Newington Library are located on Walworth Road in the London Borough of Southwark and are both adjoining Grade II listed buildings. The Walworth Town Hall was built for the vestry of the parish of Newington, opening as the Newington Vestry Hall in 1865, and was used as Southwark Council’s municipal offices from 1965 until 2013. The Newington Library was constructed in 1892 and an extension was undertaken in 1902 to accommodate the Cuming Museum. Until recently, the Newington Library was occupied by an Arts School.
A fire occurred in 2013 which left most of the Walworth Town Hall’s interior significantly damaged and the roof structure almost entirely lost through fire and water damage or collapse. Much of the building’s original heritage fabric has been destroyed. Southwark Council undertook a faithful restoration of part of the building in 2014 to erect a new roof on the section of building facing Walworth Road, as well as a temporary roof on the central and eastern parts of the building. The Town Hall has remained vacant since the fire and has been placed on Historic England’s ‘at-risk’ register.
The applicant, General Projects, was selected by Southwark Council to lead the refurbishment and restoration works to bring these iconic buildings back into use. Internal and external alterations will be undertaken using a categorical approach to heritage restoration, whereby the level of works and interventions of existing spaces is informed by the heritage significance of the room. Rooms of high significance (i.e. Council Chamber, main staircase and the library) will be restored in a scholarly manner, and rooms of some or neutral significance will be refurbished using a “light touch” approach, where original decorative elements are retained, and will be cleaned and made good but not fully restored.
The proposals provide a mix of studio workspaces and co-working for the creative industries designed around a new cultural and community hub. The community hub will be anchored by a community centre and café / lobby at ground floor, which will be open to the public all year round. The community centre will provide creative, cultural and diverse multi-use spaces which will be available to local groups and organisations to provide a range of programmes, events and classes. The management of the space will be undertaken by a not-for-profit organisation that will be selected through a collaborative process with the community.
The flexible employment and educational floorspace will be located across five floors and will be used for a mix of studio workspaces and co-working for the creative industries. The employment space will provide for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and independent and local businesses. It is estimated that the new workspace could generate up to 370 jobs.
A new entrance will be created to the north of the building, opening onto Walworth Square to improve public access and legibility.