Safeguarding Culture

Mapping cultural deprivation and Heritage at Risk to build a strategy for delivering culture in Greater London.

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A speculative project for the Mayor of London’s A+U framework, where the brief was to propose a new cultural centre for Greater London. DK-CM argued that, instead of a single institution, London needs a network of new facilities held together by a strong institutional identity, and located in the places with the least current access to culture. To find a way through this we started to overlay data to see if there might be opportunities buried in different workflows, departments and organisations.

The richest seam we found was by mapping cultural need (using data derived from the GLA’s Cultural Infrastructure map) alongside Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register – putting this data together allowed us to see where cultural infrastructure is most needed and also where there are ‘at risk’ historic buildings that could be intelligently refurbished to provide that infrastructure. Within the confines of our speculative project, we then explored three potential ‘at risk’ sites – in Bexley, Havering and Newham – where this project could bear fruit:

The Crossness Engines Trust is a remarkable piece of architecture and engineering that once dealt with all of South London’s sewage. It is now open on particular days so the the public can explore its incredible spaces and machinery. Its roof needs substantial repair so our proposal concentrates new cultural provision in the roof space to support and enrich the work of the Trust.

The Rom is a notable skatepark in the history of UK skateboarding and its inclusion as a listed building is an exciting gesture by Historic England. It has suffered a devastating fire in recent years and budgets to bring it back to life are prohibitive – so here we imagine some enabling cultural works specifically targeting young people situated alongside a revitalised historic skatepark.

The Central Buffet and Central Office, adjacent to the Royal Albert Dock, have been without a purpose since the closure of the docks. They also address substantial areas of open space and hardstanding in the Royal Docks . Thanks in part to the Elizabeth Line and the they can become a highly accessible hub for East London’s cultural industries.

This was a short, playful project but embodies an approach that we at DK-CM hope to bring to all of our work – joining things up to make meaningful positive change in complex places.


  • Client: Mayor of London
  • Dates: 2022

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