The transformation of Cockpit Deptford has begun


This year marks the 21st birthday of Cockpit Deptford, and we’re completely transforming it to be more open and welcoming to the whole community

Working with young architects practice Cooke Fawcett, the building is being refurbished and opened up, to make it more fit-for-purpose for the 60+ independent makers based there, as well as for the local Deptford community.

The main entrance will be expanded to create easier access from the pavement and a welcoming space for visitors for congregate. A front yard is being converted into a Craft Garden, designed by Sebastian Cox. A new cafe area will sit alongside the expanded learning space on the ground floor, hosting a rich programme of community workshops.

Cockpit makers delivered a fantastic programme of workshops as part of Lewisham Borough of Culture, and this fantastic new space will mean that we can host many more of these in future, right here at Cockpit.

Working in collaboration with designer Sebastian Cox, the ambition is to transform the run-down and disused front yard into the new Craft Garden: an urban oasis for the whole community to come together, to relax and enjoy nature, and take part in hands-on craft.

As well as being a refuge for the makers who call Cockpit home, the garden will be open to the public as a quiet and contemplative space in the heart of bustling Deptford, and will reflect the development of the area from pre-industrial to post-urban. The funds for this part of the project are to be raised through a crowdfunding campaign in April this year.

A new block is being added at the back of the building, to provide a purpose-built woodworking and metal hub. 21 new studio spaces are also being created, increasing the number of affordable studio spaces Cockpit can provide, with each supported by the in-house business training that makes Cockpit so unique.  

The 1960s former office block will retain many of its original features, embracing a retrofit approach and repurposing many of the original materials including the beautifully characterful parquet floors – lovingly worn in by keen Open Studios visitors and the excited commotion of a working studio.

“Historically, this kind of 60s structure is perhaps too easily maligned, but it’s a great, useful building, which welcomes transformation and retrofit. The building owes its layout to the imposition of a council office on the site of a former wharf and warehouse and it’s inspirational to us that this previous evolution created pockets of outdoor space of varying sizes, which are so useful for makers. Our aspiration in working with the existing structure and surrounding yard is to contribute a new layer to this existing mix, for the benefit of generations to come.”  Francis Fawcett of Cooke Fawcett Architects

In the context of one of the UK’s most deprived wards, and in a landscape filled with new (almost all residential) developments, Cockpit Deptford stands out as a project designed to be a welcoming community hub and a space for people to connect through creativity. Indeed, in order to be granted funding by the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund, Cockpit had to demonstrate that this project was an example of ‘innovative, best practice regeneration activities, that enable Londoners to actively participate in their local community.’

The project is also made possible by generous funding from Stride and LB Lewisham, as well as Cockpit patrons including Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, City Bridge Trust, Cockayne Grants for the Arts and The Turners’ Company.

“This will see an exciting transformation of Cockpit Deptford from a relatively self‐contained organisation into a vibrant community hub on Deptford’s Creekside. Our vision is to build a thriving centre for craft and making, providing affordable studios, expert business support, local jobs, and a rich programme of workshops, exhibitions, and events. We look forward to the launch of our newly transformed site in September 2023, and the years that lie ahead where we see the careers of future makers made at Cockpit.”  Annie Warburton, Cockpit CEO

Cockpit’s crowdfunding campaign launches on 25th April 2023, on Art Happens. Register your interest to receive updates about the campaign launch and a sneak preview of rewards.