Mayor visits Building BloQs facility

By Aileen Murphy - Fri 24 February 2017, 4:42 pm

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited Enfield’s Building BloQs workspace for freelancers and designers, to meet the team and learn about plans to build a new facility.

Building BloQs, a pay-as-you-go professional-standard workshop at Meridian Works, was given a £1.35 million grant from the mayor's London Regeneration Fund to move to a new facility on the estate where it is currently based.

Khan heard about plans to convert two industrial warehouses into flexible open-plan workspaces. The larger of the two industrial sheds will be its main facility and the smaller will be used as an arts studio.

The project is currently at the planning and design stage and Building BloQs is in the process of selecting a contractor to start work.

In its main space, the existing floor will be developed into a fully equipped workshop and an upper 1,532sq m workspace floor will be added. The top level will have a 325sq m space for a cafe and in the future more levels could be installed.

The project will cost £2.7 million and is due to be completed by the end of 2017. The future 4,645sq m facility will be the largest of its kind in Europe.

Founded by four friends in 2012, Building BloQs was established to provide an affordable and flexible alternative to renting expensive London studios and investing in private equipment. It allows small businesses, freelancers and designers access to industry-standard equipment needed to work in wood, metal, textiles, concrete, plastic and paint.

Membership costs £40 a year and £20 a day to rent workspace.

Joe Buckingham, a member at Building BloQs has made a successful career for himself as a blacksmith.   

“I do it because I love it - I got in and couldn't get out.

“It’s an ecosystem, I’ve made a lot of contacts through BloQs. If I’ve got 20 regular clients and someone else has the same number in another discipline then suddenly we’re sharing 40 contacts. It’s handy, things just grow.”

Those who use Building BloQs benefit from being able to collaborate with other members and sharing contacts. Combining skill sets allows them to bid for bigger projects.

After his tour of the current workshop, Khan was gifted a three-tier desk tidy, which intended to replicate Building BloQs facility.

Ollie Morrison, a woodwork graduate from the Building Crafts College, produced the gift from off-cuts found in the workshop. 

Alis Le May, the head of department for fashion and textiles, who launched a textile studio at the site in 2016, said: “It seemed ludicrous that London, one of the world’s most innovative fashion capitals, was lacking the resources to support local talent. I discovered Building BloQs, and I couldn’t quite believe my luck.”

In its first month the textile studio attracted three new members. Since then it has grown to 11 members and allowed designers such as Angelika Chilikova to develop their careers.

After restarting her career in the UK Chilikova felt unable to advance in the fashion industry, leading to her starting her own business. She said: “A friend saw the Building BloQs stand at Student Fashion Week and convinced me to come to see it. I told her she was a genius – BloQs was exactly what I needed.

“Twice a year there are fashion seasons to make for. And in between those I come into BloQs to make the pieces that I want to make.”