Peckham; a melting pot of culture and creativity where turning a corner feels like entering a
new world. Many have gathered on the 10 th floor of Peckham’s multi-storey car park for an
ice-cold pint and a panoramic view of London’s skyline. Frank’s café has become an icon of
the area, an uber-cool lookout hidden at the top of an empty shell.
Enter Kwabena Ampomsa, the mind behind the rebirth of the building and the creation of
Peckham levels as it is known today. He describes himself as ‘the glue that holds the place
together and forms cohesion throughout the building.’ Following a campaign that saved the unused building the council wanted to demolish, came
the reincarnation of a building rooted in activism. Now the space no longer simply attracts a summer crowd of drinkers to the rooftop bar, it has become a hotspot for street-food, bars, live music, cafes, salons and fitness studios.
Launched in December 2017, Kwabena hoped to create ‘a space that is inclusive, has a good
community outreach and is ultimately a harmonious environment to work in.’
Set across six floors, the concrete framework is a cultural and social hub for independent
business and is buzzing with energy from all walks of life.
Every aspect of the project has a strong focus on community and it is clear that this is
Kwabena’s main aim when discussing the importance of collaboration. Championing
creativity and enterprise in the local area, from food vendors to live music ‘the doors are
open to all’ says Kwabena. ‘It’s for everyone:’ he goes on to say, ‘working class to middle
class, all races, all ages. We want it to be a space where all these people can feel celebrated
and included. We want people to see how much potential the area has and hopefully entice
new energy that identifies with the vibe.’
As Peckham’s neighbouring areas of New Cross and Deptford are undergoing drastic change
to become trendier and ‘hipster friendly’ they face issues of gentrification and
discrimination. When asked what he thinks the future holds for Peckham and its
surrounding areas, Kwabena says it is all about the residents and the heart and soul that
runs through the space. ‘It is all about delivering what you say you will and ensuring
residents know how they can benefit.’ He also continues to reinforce the focus on inclusion
and describes it as ‘a creative space where all can be celebrated’ followed by the phrase;
‘each one, teach one’ he believes supporting and nurturing talent and creativity will
eventually come full circle.
By Leyla Sitki