Making space for sustainability, creativity and community in the UK’s least affordable city
We revive, repurpose and transform empty and underused spaces in Oxford to create affordable workspaces that nurture connection and support between social enterprises, creatives, makers and doers committed to positive change.
Truly affordable space in Oxford is non-existent. In 2015, a small group of community-led and socially-driven organisations, struggling to find the space in which to fix, build, work and make an impact, came together to try a new approach. They formed Makespace Oxford as a Community Interest Company, to find innovative ways of bringing empty and underused buildings back into community use.
In 2018 Makespace Oxford opened in a North Oxford building owned by Wadham College and awaiting redevelopment in Aristotle Lane. Forty social enterprises, workers cooperatives, small charities and creative individuals are now working from Aristotle Lane. It functions as a ‘meanwhile space’: a temporary flexible lease to offer maximum benefit to its residents while keeping rent affordable.
In 2020, Makespace Oxford opened a new space in the city centre, right next to the train station, on Park End Street. This space, dubbed Makespace Central, serves as another flexible workspace and allow Makespace to support a new group of change-makers, with plans to develop a large community hub in the adjacent space in late 2021.
The project is a catalyst, a question and a demand to make space for sustainability, creativity and community. It’s also a network of vibrant hubs for community action, places where new partnerships begin and ideas come to life.
In early 2021, Makespace Oxford launched the Meanwhile in Oxfordshire programme, an Oxfordshire County Council funded programme, with a remit to open up to 50 new meanwhile (temporary use) spaces across all 5 districts over the next year. The programme has already had lots of interest from local community groups, charities, non-profits, retail businesses and cafes.
The Makespace Community
Transition by Design
Founding Partner Architecture and strategic design with a purpose
Alex works with our local communities to match individuals and organisations with spaces that will help them to thrive.With a background in cultural production and theatre, his previous work saw him touring the UK and Australia with drag queens, teaching theatre in schools and universities, and delivering large scale participation projects. As Communities Delivery Manager, Alex is excited by the prospect of empowering communities of Oxfordshire to transform spaces and drive social change.
Communities Deliver Manager
Andy is a passionate social entrepreneur who has led a number of successful purpose-driven community businesses. He is co-founder of Makespace Oxford and Programme Lead for the ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ programme, as well as co-founder, designer and architect at Transition by Design. He believes strongly in the power of space to create more inclusive and resilient local communities, and is committed to transforming, repurposing and reviving underused spaces in Oxfordshire.
Co-founder, Programme Lead & Director
Claire joined Makespace in early 2020 with a huge wealth of experience in supporting independent businesses and social enterprises. As Makespace’s Operations Coordinator, she takes care of all our systems and processes, and streamlines project resources so that we can be as efficient and effective as possible. Claire is passionate about supporting local socially conscious organisations and businesses across Oxfordshire.
Claire Le Master
Dianne joined us in 2021 to help deliver the Owned by Oxford Community Wealth Building programme. She is a Social Sculpture practitioner, Cultural Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Advocate, Poet, Author & ARTivist. She’s invested in regenerative ARTivism for belonging, advocacy and placemaking with a focus on African heritage diaspora communities, and has a deep commitment to increasing the participation of communities less seen and less heard in the local economy.
Dr. Dianne Regisford
Emily joined Makespace in 2021 to help us spread the word about our work. She is a communications professional with over six years of experience in the arts, culture and non-for-profit sectors. Emily believes strongly in the power of storytelling and connection to help organisations achieve their goals, and loves to think creatively and strategically about how to do this. She’s thrilled to be part of the Makespace team and is passionate about the power of space to support growth, equality and community.
Communications & Marketing Manager
Emma leads our building management team, ensuring that spaces we acquire are refurbished and brought into community use as efficiently as possible. She joined Makespace in 2018 with a background in design, construction and architecture, and has extensive experience in facilities management for social enterprises. In her time at Makespace, Emma has witnessed first hand how space can unlock great ideas and is proud to be part of the solution for the brilliant organisations we support.
Georgie works alongside members of the buildings and communities teams to manage the fit out of many of our buildings in order to offer welcoming and creative spaces. She also coordinates many aspects of the day to day running of our buildings. With a background in live event and festival production management and a sideline in managing meanwhile spaces, Georgie is looking forward to working with the rest of the Makespace community to reanimate buildings across the county.
James works to ensure that the buildings we occupy are safe, secure and efficient and that all our occupiers have what they need to be productive and successful.
Prior to joining Makespace in 2021, James held various roles in site and facility management in Oxford City Centre. James is excited to be part of a team breathing life back into Oxfordshire’s high streets and supporting local communities, especially after such a challenging year, and looks forward to applying his skills and experience to support Makespace Oxford’s mission.
Jo manages our existing residents, internal communications and programme of community events and activities. Previously a creative producer and curator, with a focus on Arts & Heritage building transformation, she brings many years’ experience collaborating across sectors and spaces. Passionate about work that ignites action and improves well-being, Jo is excited by Makespace’s mission to breathe new life into underused space – maximising potential and strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.
As Strategic Director, Penny ensures our team has the clarity, resource and support we need to deliver on our mission and values – enabling residents and potential residents to thrive in affordable working space, whilst being progressive, co-operative, ethical and agile. Penny is also an executive coach and was previously Deputy Chief Executive at Oxfam GB. Penny combines operational and strategic leadership experience with organisational development skills and a life-long commitment to social justice.
Zahra is the award-winning co-founder and director of YWMP – an intersectional feminist charity that offers access to free workshops, resources, and mentoring to women and non-binary people. Zahra has been a workshop facilitator in Oxfordshire for 18 years, delivering music technology, drumming, and songwriting sessions to young people and vulnerable adults in many different settings. Zahra’s goal is to build meaningful connections between different communities in Oxford so that support can be distributed mindfully to those who need it most.
Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani
Bart is a member of our Board, and an experienced leader and manger working in a range of organisations. He is one of Makespace Oxford’s Directors and also our Treasurer, with an overview of our financial plans. His areas of expertise are people and team management, but he has also managed estates refurbishment and construction projects. Bart is most interested in helping people and communities find and develop new ways of working together.