Aristotle House is an office building located just north of Oxford's city centre. It is our first meanwhile project at Makespace Oxford, and the first truly affordable shared workspace in the city.
Owned by Wadham College, University of Oxford, the building has been due for redevelopment for a number of years. In 2018, we secured a peppercorn lease on the space, which is now serves as a thriving hub for over 30 purpose-led people and organisations in Oxford.
Despite needing a lot of work, Aristotle House presented an opportunity that would meet the needs of the local community. Our vision was a social enterprise hub near the heart of the city, providing local community groups, start-ups, social enterprises and third sector organisations with affordable and secure working space. We proposed a hybrid model of co-working and private offices, as well as shared community spaces. Aristotle House would encourage and foster mutual aid and collaboration, bringing an otherwise empty and costly building back in productive community use.
BARRIERS TO USE
Aristotle House required extensive refurbishment to meet health and safety requirements. After securing a lease and carrying out detailed surveys, we completed the following works…
- Stripped and re-wired the electrics
- Removed asbestos
- Upgraded fire and security systems
- Repaired central heating
- Installed new hot water system
- Built a wheelchair accessible WC
Since securing a lease on Aristotle House in 2018, we have supported dozens of organisations that deliver vital services in Oxford, and generate substantial social, environmental and economic benefits.
0 Organisations supported
0 Jobs created and sustained
0 Square feet brought back into use
The space is now an affordable and accessible hub for social and environmental enterprise, where a strong community of networking, sharing and co-creating has emerged. Initiatives supported and incubated include mental health and family services, waste reduction and up-cycling programmes, community action groups, as well as a number of purpose-led start-ups and enterprises.
Thirty per cent of organisations housed here have formed collaborations or partnerships with other residents, and over 100 networking, skill-sharing and social events have been hosted.
Being surrounded by like minded individuals, striving for social change and to make their venture work, meant advice or a fun chat over lunch or making coffee was never far away – and these great vibes carried through in my ability to focus on my own task list.Freelancer
Aristotle House is a great place to find community support. We've collaborated with lots of other residents on projects - creating pin badges with Sabali pots and patch pockets with LisaMadeIt. Medhi's falafel from the deli opposite keeps us going, and the canal keeps us calm.Programme Lead, YWMP
For a small community action project, the idea of taking on our own space in a city like Oxford was totally out of reach. Makespace offered affordable and flexible space in which to grow. But more than this, we knew that the comradeship, regular contact with other organisations in a similar space, would prove invaluable. As indeed it all turned out to be.SHARE Oxford
The impact of Aristotle House doesn't stop at its four walls: both Wadham College and the local neighbourhood association have reported the benefits of having the building reanimated as a community space.
Our occupation has added substantial value to the space for Wadham College through the extensive building works completed, whilst also helping them to avoid an estimated £200,000 in capital costs, maintenance costs and business rates liabilities since 2018. It has also provided an opportunity for the college to engage with and support the needs of the local community.
Neighbours of Aristotle House have been enthusiastic participants in events hosted by our community, and have also reported lower rates of crime and anti-social behaviour on site since our arrival.
"Makespace Oxford and its particular approach have demonstrated they can bring empty buildings back into use quickly for the benefit of the local community without impacting on our longer term development plans. For a landowner this is a win - win, reducing the costs of building upkeep and security whilst a building is empty or under-occupied and also partnering with a capable enterprise that helps to benefit the local community."
- Wadham College, Landlord
“Hayfield Road Residents Association have been very pleased at the effort that Makespace Oxford has put into making Aristotle House a place for the community at large. Although it is a private building, our residents have benefited from the numerous public events that Makespace has put on. We therefore believe that their continued presence would offer further opportunities for collaboration and would constitute an ongoing enhancement to the local area."
- Chair, Hayfield Rd Residents Association
“As a long-term resident and former City Councillor for St Margaret's and now for Wolvercote I offer my full support to Makespace’s continued use of Aristotle House. Makespace’s model offers valuable support to local businesses who are trying to make our world a better place and who are in need of an affordable home more than ever through the Coronavirus pandemic."
- Elizabeth Ward, City Councillor for Wolvercote and former councillor of St Margaret's Ward