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Bloqs – the UK’s first open-access factory – has been officially opened in Enfield
Bloqs, a new facility providing professional makers and businesses with affordable workshop space, access to state-of-the-art equipment and the opportunity to become part of a community of like-minded people has officially been opened in Enfield.
The new open-access space – designed in close collaboration with Bloqs by 5th Studio – provides 32,000 square feet of workspace with facilities for woodworking, metalworking, fashion and fabrics, engineering and spray finishing, as well as resources and services – including courses, classes and hireable meeting rooms.
Part-newbuild and part-adaptive reuse of a former vehicle testing facility, the light-filled, hangar-sized building is 6.5 (serviceable) metres tall with direct access to a service yard. New amenities open to the public include a café and event space, as well as a shop stocking tools and materials.
Users have access to light industrial equipment worth £1.3m, which could usually be beyond the reach of many new businesses, including: industrial mills, lathes, sanders, saws, CNC routers, laser cutting, 3D printers, spray booths and sewing machines. Once registered, members can pre-book spaces and facilities as they need them. Current members range from fashion designers, furniture makers and interior designers to playground designers and makers, metal fabricators and eco-entrepreneurs.
Part of the Meridian Water regeneration programme, an investment of £4m by the Greater London Authority and Enfield Council has enabled this concept to treble the scale of its operations and meet the growing demand among professional makers for affordable workspace in London.
Meridian Water is a major £6bn, 25-year programme led by Enfield Council, bringing 10,000 homes and 6,000 jobs to the borough. Bloqs will play a crucial role in defining the character of the area ahead of longer-term regeneration, demonstrating how the creative industries can form an integral part of successful mixed-use development and placemaking.
Bloqs co-founder Al Parra, said: “From the very beginning Bloqs has been about providing professional makers and their businesses the right space and facilities to grow and make a living. We’ve done this by gathering a community that shares resources, and what really distinguishes us from other open-access workspaces is that we’re designed specifically to enable commercial activity. With this new facility, we can give our community the space to make it work, we can create partnerships with education providers, manufacturers, suppliers, and our local communities. We’re deeply indebted and grateful to the many people and partners who have made this next step possible.”
Nesil Caliskan, the Leader of Enfield Council, added: “I am excited to open the new Bloqs facility in Edmonton today. The expansion of the Bloqs workshop will provide higher levels of employment in Enfield, directly supporting our creative industries and businesses.
“This is another great example of how Meridian Water is not only helping a local business grow but how it is becoming the key place in the borough for the creative sector to flourish. I am proud that our partnership with Bloqs has allowed the space to grow for the benefit of local people, and I look forward to seeing local businesses use this fantastic new facility for many years to come.”
Tom Holbrook, director of 5th Studio, said: “Space for making things in London is diminishing rapidly as development displaces the capital’s contingent and productive spaces. Building Bloqs forms an important bulwark and demonstrates that space for physical making is actually a growing need in the city. Bloqs is the latest in a series of productive spaces 5th Studio have helped create and its breadth and generosity are quite unique. The project delivers a critical part of the Meanwhile Masterplan for Meridian Water which is helping to inform change on the ground: shifting perceptions, improving connectivity, scaling up existing uses and embedding vibrant new ones.”
Bloqs will actively foster relationships with education providers from special educational needs to further education to higher education and is effectively an outsourced technical campus for the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL and West Lea School for children with special educational needs.
Collaborations with CONEL, Barnet & Southgate College, School of Engineering UCL, and Building Crafts College are expected throughout 2022. Bloqs also partners with professional bodies, such as Make UK and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to expand learning and business opportunities for its members.