ur01For the past 5 weeks Voist has taken residency at 99 Church Street, transforming what was once Circle Sports premises into Church Street’s Urban Room. The Urban Room initiative was originally coined by internationally known Architects Farrells in The Farrell Review, and first trailed in Blackburn.

One of Farrells’ key recommendations in last year’s Review was that every town and city should have an ‘Urban Room’ where “people can go to understand and debate the past, present and future of that place; and that Architecture and the built environment should be taught as early as possible in school education and through many different subjects”.

uro2With the Church Street ward moving slowly through the beginning stages of Westminster’s Futures Plan and Farrells being based in the local area, setting up an Urban Room on the high street has proven to be a fundamental move in attempting to bring the community and the many agencies involved in the renewal program of development and consultation together under one roof.

With very little time and resources to get set up, it was decided early on that this Urban Room should start as a blank canvas – offering local residence, businesses and entrepreneurs a free space to host an event or simply pop in for a chat. Most importantly it needed to be a space for people to freely express their views on the area’s future, past and present.

urimage03Having now passed the halfway point, everyone involved agrees that we are just now finding our feet. Starting with a blank canvas and calling upon the entire community to cover the Urban Rooms walls and help co-create its eight-week program felt slightly daunting at first. Leaving the fate of this initiative in the hands of the unknown. However we are pleased to say that the Church Street community has pulled it off. The packed out programme of events – everything from Caporeria, Food Festivals and Death Cafes – has proven to be a great success. There have been some truly memorable, emotional and constructive conversations about the area’s future and how local communities in general might best address some of the issues that currently face society today.

ur04What has definitely left the Voist team feeling enthused and hopeful however is the true beauty of people. In this city that demands so much from all of us, has us racing round trying to cram in as much as we can into a week, working all the hours to keep up with its expenses and often feeling completely at odds with its forever shifting tides, it is not often that you get to stop, and sit in a place and let the world pass by your door. All the visitors that have stopped in to the Urban Room have had something positive to share, be it a story, an enlightening quote or a good joke. With the rapid decline of spaces that offer people the time to just simply be in each other’s company share simple pleasures and learn a little more about each other, the Urban Room has been a welcomed offering to this particular community.