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A lightweight timber drum on top of a concrete rotunda, formerly an air raid shelter used in World War II, creating an interpretation museum and restaurant
Constructed throughout London during World War II, there are eight deep-level air-raid shelters located along the London Underground Northern Line. The rotunda at Clapham South was originally conceived to accommodate up to 8,000 Londoners during the frequent air-raids across the capital city. Excavated as two large parallel tunnels which would one day traffic trains , these underground chambers were divided in to 16 shelters, each named after a British naval commander. Post-war labour shortages saw the arrival of the first economic migrants from the West Indies. In 1948, 492 workers arrived from Jamaica on the ship Empire Windrush and were temporarily housed in these shelters, these workers formed the basis of the strong West Indian Community in neighbouring Brixton. This was recently featured on BBC’s Documentary Back in Time for Brixton.
During the design process we extensively engaged with the local planning authority and local interest groups including CCMAC, The Clapham Society and Freinds of Clapham Common to agree the project vision, a number of key considerations or objectives were developed and met. The design encourages community interaction on with the building through the exhibition, cafe and organised tours of the tunnels, ultimately creating an asset in the local community whilst simultaneously providing a sound commercial basis for the client, whose profits are ploughed back in the transport network. The project is to be ran as a Hub for London Transport Museums Hidden London Tours and will house a Cafe and Restaurant with panoramic view across the common on South London skyline.
A Palate of soft and natural materials are used to contrast the robust concrete structures and symbolise light coming out of the darkness of war.