Let’s Build: A Space Conceived and Engineered by Brixton’s Young Community

Let’s Build with Brixton House 

A co-created temporary performance space will be erected at Brixton House this month, to engage and inspire Brixton’s young community. 

The space is not just for Brixton’s young citizens; it’s also been conceived and engineered by them. 

The project is a MATT+FIONA BUILD developed with Y4-Y6 (8-11 years old) primary school children who are local to Brixton. The children have set the brief, designed, and will now build the structure themselves. 

The crowd-funded project is supported by 145 generous backers through Spacehive Crowdfunding, a pledge from the Mayor of London’s Crowdfund London campaign, and a grant from the Co-operative Foundation. The performance space will stay in the theatre throughout the month of April and will be made available to local youth groups and schools for performances and activities. 

The project has been a truly collective endeavour. The engagement process and initial conception of the design began in 2019, when 20 school children from four primary schools determined the brief and began designing the space. Beset by delays due to the pandemic, the baton was handed on in 2022 to a second cohort of children from the same schools, who have developed the original concepts, working them up to a technical resolution. 

The timber and plywood design – which is beautiful and colourful, fully accessible and interactive – has emerged from this series of workshops, and a multitude of contributions. The children will now physically build their performance space over a five-day build, with support by MATT+FIONA and a group of over 60 volunteers. They will learn how to measure and saw timber, connect it in structurally sound ways, and create complex frame structures. Working as a team will be key. 

Performance and play bring people together, activate communities and engender a sense of belonging and purpose, and in a landscape altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, when children faced severe levels of loneliness and isolation, this project brings opportunity to nurture creativity and rebuild the confidence and aspirations of the young people involved. 

MATT+FIONA’s tried and tested model of engagement has a clear pathway of briefing, design, build and use, with children and young people at the centre of every stage of the process, for a life-transforming experience through which they feel ownership from start to finish and see first-hand how they can directly shape their world. 

Let’s Build with Brixton House is a MATT+FIONA BUILD project, one of three strands of the social enterprise’s practice, which also includes LEARN and CONNECT. 

Matthew Springett and Fiona MacDonald, Co-Founders of MATT+FIONA, said: 

“Working with these primary schools in Brixton for the last 5 years – before, during and now hopefully after the pandemic – we cannot wait for the children to finally see their performance space realised. Their vision for the space and its contribution to their community has been unwavering throughout. It will be a testament to their perseverance, resilience and creativity, skills we need now more than ever. We hope that projects like this will become far more commonplace for schools across the UK.”