Cockpit Deptford – ADC

In Deptford, Southeast London, Cooke Fawcett has added makers studios for Cockpit, a charity that offers space and support for creatives.



Max Creasy and Peter Landers

Once a 1960s office and now a bustling hub for makers of all crafts, Cockpit’s hub in Deptford has been given a new lease of life by London studio Cooke Fawcett.

Having been established in Deptford since 2002, Cockpit – a charity that provides affordable studio space, mentoring and business advice to creatives in the craft industries – sought to improve its site in Southeast London and develop a space for makers that was more welcoming to the public.

With financing support from the GLA’s Good Growth Fund and STRIDE, the £3.24 million project involved a carefully planned loose-fit retrofit to keep the building operational during construction.

The site was originally a Victorian wharf, the northern-most wall of which remains still in place. The Wharf was bombed out during the war and redeveloped after, with the council putting in a four-storey office building in the 1960s.



Site plan


Ground floor plan

On the street-facing side of this wall, a new mural “Head, Heart, Hand” by Cockpit-resident artist Amber Khokhar has been added, made with tessellating triangular tiles. Meanwhile, Cooke Fawcett has punched through the Victorian wall to create a more inviting entrance that still alludes to the industrial nature of the site’s past as well as the activities that take place within. A 3.5 metre high, 6.5 mere wide metal gate swings open to let visitors into a garden which serves as an outside threshold to the main building.

The garden, designed by Sebastian Cox, is high point for the project. Cox’s furniture pieces, made from oak and sweet chestnut have been added to the garden which acts as a textured landscape – with different textures delineating different zones within, and reflecting Deptford’s Creekside flora, as well as including rubble beds made from remnants of the wall that made way for the new gate.

While the Victorian wall is a clear barrier to the outside, the meshed gate allows passersby to peer in. Slender apertures, 100mm wide at their narrowest point, can be found in either corner of the garden and frame curated views up and down the street so occupants within the garden and makers entering via the designated maker-space entrance can glimpse activity on either side.


The selected plants have a practical use in craft processes, including willow (Salix purpurea) used in basketry, madder (Rubia tinctorum) used in natural dyes, and flax (Linum usitatissimum).

Inside the building, the ground floor has been reworked to include a visitor entrance foyer that can double up as a gallery, a workshop and learning spaces, as well as a café.

When Cooke Fawcett came to the project, much of this space had been allocated as storage. This has since been moved further back, with most being relocated around the building’s plant space.

“The building enables Cockput to have a more consistent relationship with the public,” Oliver Cooke, director at CookeFawcett, told AT.

As a result, the ground floor, along with the garden, will be Cockpit’s primary means of engaging the public, which us supported by a programme that includes craft workshops to evening seminars as well as the National Saturday Club for 13- to 16-year-olds.


Despite the main objective being to provide further makerspace studios for Cockpit on a limited budget, there are nice details here too. Suspended plug adapters can stretch from the ceiling through sprung wiring and orange cabling that celebrates the fact that this is a space for making.

Much of the ‘60s office remains as well, notably the parquet flooring and cast aluminium tiles (originally from Pewter) the latter of which wrap partly around the stair core. Walking around, the first floor, the space is rich with the smells of craft: leathermakers, basket weavers, painters, illustrators, and more are all plying their trade here.

At the rear of the site is a new outbuilding. Clad in crimson red corrugated metal sheeting which sits on a base of breeze blocks with timber eaves above, the 86 square metre structure is home to two woodworking studios. Here ceilings are higher than the typical maker studios in the main building to be better suited for woodwork.


“This project is all about opening up Cockpit to the local community for the first time, providing makers with more spaces that support new kinds of practice. The design aspires to create a spatial and material experience for visitors which echoes that of the makers using the building,” said Francis Fawcett, Director, Cooke Fawcett in a statement.

“We have worked closely with the community of makers to really understand their priorities, and to unlock the potential of the underused leftover spaces in and around the building. Underpinning the design has always been an intention to make Cockpit feel welcoming and inviting in public areas, while improving and extending the facilities for makers. It is a lean and robust building which is first and foremost a space for making, and now for the first time welcomes everyone to learn and enjoy the new spaces.”

Jonathan Burton, CEO, Cockpit, added: “The redevelopment of the Cockpit Deptford site reinforces our sense of community, creating new spaces for our makers to meet, support and inspire each other as they develop their creative practice and businesses. Communicating the benefit of craft and creativity to a wider audience is also central to our mission, and our Craft Garden, Café and Education space allow us to now reach out and engage a new community, including those living and working close by, sharing the skills of our makers and highlighting the opportunities that craft can offer. We are extremely grateful to all our partners and supporters who have helped us realise this project.”





Cooke Fawcett

Project architect

Francis Fawcett, Andrew Gibbs

Structural engineer


Services engineer

Max Fordham


Quinn London Ltd (QLL)

Project manager

New Stages

Planning consultation

The Planning Lab

Quantities Surveyor

Gardiner and Theobald

Access consultant

Jane Simpson Access

Garden designer

Sebastian Cox

Gate manufacturer

Cake industries

Mural artist

Amber Khokhar

Additional images

Source: Architecture Today