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26 March 2013

Architect David Adjaye poised to create Hackney Central fashion hub

DAVID Adjaye has a vision for Hackney Central: he would like it to be a fashion hub for residents and international visitors alike, where jobs go to local people and businesses work together to improve the area.

The renowned architect has been commissioned to develop a £100million shopping outlet that captures the borough’s creative energy and provides a draw for all. Top fashion brands will be sold at discounted prices and Hackney’s already thriving designer community will have a place to set up shop in this 75,000sq foot Bicester-style project.

The scheme is being funded by £1.5million from the Greater London Authority and £3.3million from Network Rail. Conditions of this funding mean that 50 per cent of the hundreds of new jobs created will be reserved for Hackney residents.

Consultation has already begun and if planning permission is granted, the hub could be built by 2016.

David says: “This is an opportunity to really create a new addition to Hackney’s urban tapestry. It’s going to try to bring another public realm to an area sometimes seen as behind in infrastructure – quite residential with warehouses – to a more public area.

“I think Hackney is the most diverse borough. It’s sometimes written off, but it has so much that makes it authentic London, an incubator of London life. Creative people also see it as a natural place to identify themselves with.”

The shops will be in railway archways on Morning Lane and two other buildings. There will also be a restaurant, cafe and studios. He continues: “Regeneration isn’t about bringing in people who will pay higher rents. There isn’t an agenda to get rid of people already there. It’s about how we can maximise the potential of the land, community and the borough.

“We also want more businesses in the area so that they can contribute to local employment. This is significant for younger people, traditionally the retail sector is where many start their working life.”

David was born in Tanzania, before moving to the UK aged nine. He earned a degree at South Bank University, then received his masters from the Royal College of Art in 1993. His works have included the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the canopy of the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and the Moscow School of Management. Now he’s working on a project on the coast of Portland, as well as the $500million National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

So, does David Adjaye have a style, one that we might see in Hackney?

“No two things are identical and that’s why my generation tries to talk about value rather than style,” he says. Adding: “We think of architecture like surgery. Looking at a problem, tackling it and coming up with the best solution.”

Last year he topped Power List’s poll of the most influential black people in the UK, ahead of Mo Farah and Hackney-born Idris Elba.

He says: “I was really honoured and it took me by surprise. Traditionally it’s been celebrities or sports stars. It says a lot about the panel that they chose a builder and architect as someone relevant. I’ve always been committed to the public realm and it’s nice to be celebrated.”

Architect David Adjaye will create a £100million shopping outlet in Hackney

Architect David Adjaye will create a £100million shopping outlet in Hackney

Architect David Adjaye will create a £100million shopping outlet in Hackney

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