archived plans: 2016-2017

Proposed plans 2016: 

60 vacant garages on the Ledbury Estate on Old Kent Road will be transformed into the Livesey Exchange providing spaces for making, training and cultural programmes. Workshops, studios, multifunctional spaces and a training kitchen will surround an internal courtyard linked to a sports pitch. A multi-functional space and café form the main entrance from the Old Kent Road providing desk space for flexible working, meetings, events and socialsing.

Benefits for the Old Kent Road community:
We want to transform the unused garages on the Ledbury Estate into a place that serves the neighbourhood. The Livesey Exchange will be an important community resource within Southwark’s proposed Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and will provide a hub for training, meetings, and information. It is important that local communities are involved in the development of the area as it evolves and have the training and skills to effectively participate and benefit from the coming changes.

The Livesey Exchange aims at bringing life, new skills and jobs to a currently neglected corner of South East London. The former garages will be filled with makers from a range of industries, opening up opportunities for training and further strengthening the network of manufacturers operating in the Old Kent Road area. Another resource will be the Feminist Library that plans to move to the Livesey Exchange with part of their collection and will deliver a complimentary educational programme.

The Livesey Exchange has successfully attracted funding to commence the transformation of the garages from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund, Southwark Council, Southwark Tenant Fund, Airbnb and many residents and businesses who supported our Crowdfunding campaign in 2016.

Next steps: The Livesey Exchange project has been developed by local residents Nicholas Okwulu, of social enterprise Pempeople in collaboration with Ulrike Steven, of architecture practice what if: projects. Together with our partner organisations we are currently planning the delivery of the project with building works scheduled to commence in 2017.

In the interim a number of open days and events will take place at the garages to inform and engage local communities into the making of the Livesey Exchange. For dates and more information refer to the Livesey Exchange diary.

Tell us what you think about the proposed plans and what you would like to see in the spaces.


Facing Camelot Primary School, a training and open-source workshop area will be created with access from Bird in the Bush Road and connected to the internal courtyard. The workshop will be divided into three sections accommodating a timber and metal workshop, and a flexible central area for assembly and activities that require a messy space.

Accredited training programmes in carpentry, mechanics including bike, motorbike and car will be delivered by partner orgnisations and will be facilitated by technicians who provide guidance and inductions to the open-source workshop members.

The existing bike repair and training project started by Pempeople will move to the Livesey Exchange.


A multi-functional space forms the main entrance from the Old Kent Road. Illuminated via large roof lights, it provides desk space for flexible working, meetings, events, conferences and socialsing. A training kitchen and bar are attached to this main space allowing for food related training and social events to take place. Open 5 days a week the Livesey Exchange can be accessed free of charge providing Wifi and seating to residents, businesses and visitors.

The kitchen and bar can be used for training, hourly bookings by cooks and cater for food related events or e.g. lunch clubs in the central space. The kitchen provides a space for start-up cooks and an opportunity to test ideas and further ambitions.

The kitchen and bar can be used for training, hourly bookings by cooks and cater for food related events or e.g. lunch clubs in the central space.


The central courtyard connects all spaces of The Livesey and can be accessed via the multi-functional space on Old Kent Road, the workshop area facing Camelot School and staircases leading to the podium level. Covered by the concrete deck with various large and small roof lights, the space provides areas sheltered from the rain as well as spaces that are open to the elements. The central courtyard can become a space for studios to spill out into, for greening, physical exercise, markets and cultural events. Linked to the outside sports area on the same level, the courtyard also provides access to WC, showers and changing areas that can support a sports training programme.

Studio spaces of different sizes overlook the central courtyard and are provided for start-up businesses and training. The majority of spaces will be plain with sockets, lighting and a sink allowing a diverse range of uses.

The range of studios seeks to allow for diverse interests and bring together people with experience and those at the very beginning seeking inspiration and room for testing and developing their skills.

The Feminist Library intends to move into 5 connected units with a bespoke fit out.


The Livesey Exchange will provide changing rooms The Livesey Exchange will provide changing rooms linked to the external sports pitch on the Ledbury Estate. This will support a sports and fitness programme on the external podium level, sports pitch and in he OKR studios internal courtyard. Classes in healthy eating and cooking will complement the fitness programme and benefit all age groups and levels of ability.


To enable a permanent programme of use the roof of the Ledbury Estate garages needs to be repaired and made watertight involving resurfacing. As part of this work it is proposed to improve the quality of the outside shared spaces by introducing seating, planting and play opportunities. Proposals for this public space and the adjacent sports pitch will be developed with the Ledbury Estate TRA and local residents.


A new entrance from Old Kent Road creates direct access to the studios. As part of this work the green spaces and main entrance to the Ledbury Estate area improved through greening, bike parking and seating.

Design proposal and drawings by what if: projects
Photography: Alexander Christie