Waterloo City Farm was established in 2014 on a formerly neglected plot south of Westminster Bridge. Owned by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and developed under a meanwhile-use lease, the 1630 sq m site has been transformed into a collective home for a trio of organisations - Jamie’s Farm, Oasis Waterloo and Feilden Fowles - each with a shared focus on education. Despite economic constraints, the group has fundraised together to deliver a masterplan that has created London’s most central urban farm and a verdant amenity for the local neighbourhood.
Feilden Fowles has completed the third phase of its masterplan of Waterloo City Farm: a new timber-framed education barn.
The articulated truss structure of the barn creates a lofty and uplifting space. Steps in the roof allow natural ventilation, whilst natural light is provided from the polycarbonate roof lights and a picture window overlooking the street. An evolution of the brief, the insulated classroom for 30 children has been inserted in the north-west corner, demonstrating the flexibility of the structure for future uses.
Feilden Fowles’ studio is also constructed from a solid Douglas fir timber frame, clad with carefully detailed, corrugated Onduline bitumen sheets. Its pitched roof is angled south, allowing north-facing clerestory windows and hidden vents for passive ventilation. The timber raft overhead rests on slender steel columns with the narrow leading edge of the steel columns facing the walled garden to the south, reducing their impact. The studio’s positioning against the site’s northern boundary defines the generous shared courtyard garden, designed and planted by local practice Dan Pearson Studio with a rugged and naturalistic feeling scheme. It provides a workshop space for the practice, and break-out space for meetings and communal lunches, as well as doubling up as a quiet learning space for students visiting the farm. The latest addition to the garden is an annex building, an overspill space for Feilden Fowles to pin- up and review work.
The animal pens – the first structures on the site – were made of rough sawn British larch, and share the language of stepped, pitched roofs. The steps provide the ventilation and collected grey water is used to clean and feed the animals.
During the phased development since summer 2014, the farm has regularly hosted local schools, as well as adults, community evening classes and cookery clubs. Wiltshire-based Jamie’s Farm has expanded its youth activities to enrich the experiences of children in London, working alongside local Southwark charity Oasis, which works with schoolchildren as well as collaborating with mental health charities and alcohol rehabilitation groups, providing group and one-to-one support. The farm also houses events such as jazz evenings, workshops, markets and group gardening days, bringing people together and providing a welcome destination for the diverse local community. The barn is also available for private hire, generating revenue to support the valuable activities and facilities offered on the farm.