Monday, June 22, 2009

The Sanford Co-op in New Cross, South London

Last week I visited a friend of mine, Luke, who lives in a co-op in New Cross, South London. The Sanford Co-op has been around since the early 1970s and is known for its sustainable energy use and communal atmosphere.

Up until last week everyone has claimed a bike parking space next to a tree, picnic table, or various other objects. There are almost 200 people living in the flats; most have bikes.
An architect Christos Choraitis designed this beautiful and smartly designed bike "shed" to house everyone's scattered bikes.

It is constructed out of re-used railway ties, perhaps referencing the industrial surroundings, and was built using co-op resident labor. (You can read about the planned design of this structure when it was reported in 2006). One can climb the outside and tend to the garden on top. Or, enter through the passcode-protected, swing-hinged door to access a bike.

The grand opening party was in full ride when I visited last Wednesday night and the "shed" makes for a natural gathering spot. We sat on top and enjoyed some sangria while others hung out by the vegetable/dip table set up inside. Luke and some others discovered the inside makes for a good climbing gym as well.

I was amazed by the co-op itself; not to mention Choraitis' design. The area surrounding the living spaces is full of gigantic plants, koi ponds and raised garden beds. The co-op was bought on the cheap due to the high levels of lead in the soil (thus the raised beds).

The houses each have their own flavor and design. The kitchens were recently refurbished and each house competed to design the best slate tile pattern. I was lucky enough to join in on the party that night and crash in one of the rooms. Everyone I met was varied in their interests and nationality. But, they all seemed to appreciate bikes, traveling and enjoying life. If I don't return to NYC it's because I moved in here.

1 comment:

JJN said...

Great post, Liz! Can't wait for more!