Makespace Central is Open!
We are overjoyed to be able to finally announce that the Makespace Central building on Park End Street is officially fully operational AND we have managed to secure full occupancy, with residents due to properly move in once lockdown 3 is over!
Over a year ago, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we signed a lease on the building, the former Oriental Condor, a Chinese restaurant that had stood empty over 4 years, without power, heat or a roof that kept the rain out, the ambitious plan to create a brand new shared workspace, Makespace Central (across the upper floors), and The Community Works, a fully accessible social and environmental impact hub (on the ground floor), in the Oxford city centre, directly opposite Said Business School and the Oxford train station.
We were blindsided in March, like the rest of the world, by a pandemic shaped curve-ball. With the ink on the lease still wet and the whole country locked down, we were forced to consider how or if we could continue the project or even if space could be shared and used safely during a pandemic.
We did some creative recalculations and devoted some serious considerations towards COVID safety guidelines. The team spent the year in and out of tiers and lockdowns, masks on, dealing with contractor complications, leaky roofs and many more bumps in the road. As the end of the year approached, bringing with it another lockdown, we got ourselves the best Christmas gift of all, signing off completion of Phase 1 of the project, Makespace Central.
We’ve found some wonderful organisations who are forming the new Makespace Central community, supported by the Aristotle Lane building.
The biggest open plan space on the top floor will be taken up by Agile Collective, a tech co-op and a worker-owned digital agency that designs, builds and supports websites powered by open source software. They prioritise working for organisations that value environmental sustainability, social responsibility, equality and human rights, and share a vision of a better world for everyone.
Darian Stibbe, of The Partnering Initiative (a non-profit that works with the UN, multinational companies and NGOs to drive all-of-society approaches to delivering sustainable development), has already developed a small video studio in which to record material for online courses and to provide space to conduct private meetings away from their office spaces. They are making the space available to the rest of the Makespace community as a shared resource.
Zelga Miller is an artist who specialises in drawing and painting, as well as printmaking and more recently exploring moving-images. She said this about moving to the new building:
“Makespace Central has a great feeling of light and space and is in a perfect location – at the centre of all things Oxford! Since joining Makespace, the feeling of community has really developed my practice as well as my productivity. I am more creative than ever and the opportunity to have a studio space of my own was one I wasn’t prepared to pass by.”
Sam Skinner, previously one of our Aristotle Lane hot deskers, has a studio in the building which is a base for a new art and horticulture project he is developing. His new Makespace Central studio works in tandem with a 100m2 plot on the Elder Stubbs allotment where growing functions as an intrinsic part of projects development. The project will run a rolling programme of new commissions by artists, designers, horticulturalists, and collaborations with local community groups. The studio also has screen printing facilities to support the production of printed matter for projects.
Makespace Oxford has several new projects coming up to take on and refurbish new spaces, with Phase 2 of the Park End Street project, The Community Works, now starting to take shape.