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Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion

This structure in Beckenham Place Park was created for the In Living Memory project, Tomorrow is Built Today and celebrates Lewisham’s pioneering Black-led community self-build for rent.

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Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.1)
Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.2)

The structure was designed and built by Yes Make and Tim Oshodi. Yes Make are based in south-east London who are committed to community empowerment through the construction of public spaces that both inspire and are inspired by nature.

Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.3)
Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.4)
Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.5)

The pavilion is both a striking reminder of the powerful legacy of Lewisham’s pioneering Black-led self-build initiatives and provides shelter for the users of Beckenham Place Park swimming lake.

Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.6)
Image: Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion (T17.7)

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Tim Oshodi

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

My aim is to give voice to the self-builders who stayed the course to create Fusions Jameen’s outstanding success. Please watch the video.

Hear how Colin created a community for his son. Listen to Beverley’s joy at her children and grandchildren living in the award winning home she built. Feel Peter’s gratitude for having followed his dream.

In the week of Lorraine’s 21st birthday she gave 30 hours of her sweat to create the first social housing in London with sedum roofs. Be inspired by Prince’s journey from 20th floor tower block to national recognition for his gardening skills.

‘We Africans will fight, we find it necessary and we are confident of victory.’ We are Black-led because it was the only way we could ensure our families got equal access to high quality permanent social housing. Chinbrook Meadows our third scheme is completely open.

I worked for three years unpaid as a self-build consultant overcoming institutional barriers to ensure Fusions’ hard won wisdom was incorporated into their scheme. Chinbrook transpired to be women-led and by far the most efficient SLFHA self-build scheme.

Absorb the inspirational stories of how Charmaine, Hanna and Theresa became community leaders. Marmot highlights how mainstream regeneration is worsening health inequalities. I believe community self-build for rent shows us a way forward. People in housing need can be co-creators in their own housing solutions.

In Jose Ospina’s seminal book ‘Housing Ourselves’ he illustrates that social housing is a process and how ordinary people can be empowered to do extraordinary things. The freedom fighters of Zimbabwe aged 12 left their villages to create a more just society, they taught and inspired me.

Andrew, Beverley et al saw their parents build their own homes and were inspired to do the same. Our children and grandchildren live in the homes we built. We invite you to come together and hear the cry of our next generation and just as we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, let’s debate how the tomorrow we seek can be built today.

TIM OSHODI (2022)

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Fusion 1

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

Fusions 1 (Brockely Park and Lowther Hill) won the 1992 RIBA project design award. Martin Hughes a trained architect initially got involved as a volunteer builder and brought his invaluable skills and knowledge to ensure the scheme was completed successfully.

The lessons learnt about the importance of strong foundations on a hilly site with trees in clay were then passed on to Nubia Way.

The co-op saved £100 000’s by having Martin as a contracts manager overseeing the extensive groundworks needed on a sloping site bordering 400 oak trees. Chinbrook Meadows benefited from the hard lessons of Nubia Way.

Survey Design Partnership worked with Tim Oshodi as self-build consultant to prepare the new group thoroughly including:

  • work backwards given that self-builder hours are a third of a professional builder
  • identifying which work would be done by con-tractor – two stage tendering process
  • training the self-build group to meet the competencies to fulfill their contractual obligations
  • securing additional funding to meet the needs of the self-builders
  • training the self-builders in cost control software and setting detailed budgets so that they could identify the impact on their self-build discount.

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Fusion Legacy

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

Chairing Fusions and negotiating Nubia Way to its successful conclusion gave me the confidence and skills to lead wider regeneration work. I secured £50,000 to improve the Woodland Walk, which had suffered 150 fires in one summer. We worked with local schools and the community to design mosaics and street furniture which still exists 22 years after they were put in.

All the lessons from Fusions’ first two schemes were integrated into Chinbrook Meadows. It was by far the SLFHA’s most cost-effective scheme. On budget and ahead of schedule.

It shows that when you prepare properly self-build can deliver outstanding results. Housing associations have lost many of the skills required to deliver a self-build scheme. However I believe the next generation are crying out for affordable eco homes.

We trained 82 NVQ trainees one went on to work on the Jubilee Line extension earning £50,000 per year in his first job two decades ago. Charmain set up her own building company employing up to 11 people.

I became a founder member of Downham Dividend Society Community Land Trust (CLT) Ltd . It leads the Green Woman Oasis Project which seeks to build tree houses around a neglected 15th century pond and tree walk as well as canopy level nature reception centre. It works closely with local schools who are members of school a tree-classroom. Pre-covid the Lewisham Mayor agreed to support the project up to feasibility stage.

The Trust has built an excellent partnership with the seven fields PCN. Dr Helen Tattersfield the PCN clinical director has a three decade long commitment to Downham health and wellbeing. The CLT’s ‘Downham Health through Sport, Leisure and Nature Strategy’ aims to maximise the public health contribution of Downham’s outstanding green spaces and ancient woodland.

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Current threats to self-build

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

They entered into discussions to demolish our self-build homes. I got the self-builders together and we fought them off.

Every Black self-builder in Lewisham has been issued with a fake self-build tenancy i.e. the legal protections of the development agreements are not included in the tenancy. Chisel then attempted to remove our self-build discounts. We fought that proposal but they have only suspended their attempts.

Post Grenfell, Chisel performed a fire risk assessment of Greenstreet in 2017 carrying out remedial work funded from all out rents. To date they have failed to carry out risk assessments on both of Fusions schemes. The fire officer even wrote to me denying that they had done the work on Greenstreet.

Our 82 sq m on Nubia Way is classed as a three bed while a 130 sq m on Greenstreet is charged as a two bed. This is prima facie evidence of racist rent settings. Chisel have failed to provide a written rationale despite written commitments to do so by December 2021.

When I raised these issues they targeted me. Their own investigation found in my favour. They have still not followed their solicitor’s recommendation two years after it was made.

Chisel have offered discounted rents to non-self-builders. I believe this to be part of a wider policy of divide and rule which seeks to undermines the outstanding achievements of Fusions. I believe it is only through collective action that our rights will be fully protected irrespective of Chisels future.

Housing culture has changed. Jose Ospina is long gone. We encounter an attitude that you are tenant and should just be grateful for what you have. Self-builders who raise issues are seen as ‘trouble makers’.

(Tim Oshodi 2022)

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Chinbrook Meadows

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

Chinbrook Meadows was built on budget and ahead of schedule. A woman-led scheme that was by far SLFHA’s most successful even though it involved the integration of the naturalisation of the river Quaggy.

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Peter Coker

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

The only way I could imagine having a home of my own was to build it. I dreamt to build my house but I was homeless and didn’t have the MONEY. It was a PERSONAL CHALLENGE. I didn’t need money just SWEAT BLOOD &TEARS. Building in a group with strangers is all about SELF IMPROVEMENT. How to read an architect’s drawing. I value the community we’ve made. Five tons of shingle to put on your roof could only be done by a team. We had people behind us and in front of us. A group of strangers who you can rely on and have come to TRUST. The environment is WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD.

The challenges are the personalities. We need strong wills but they go in different directions. Fulfilling your contractual self-build hours when you have famiy and other works. You must have COMMITMENT for the whole. A good friend stepped in for me when my work took me out of the country. I could tell you where I CUT A JOINT. A lot of effort made this wonderful home. If I could leave this to my own family member than that would be a LEGACY and I wished I owned it.

To next generation. “Get your act together. Know what it is you want. Be a finisher and see it through to the end.” Thank you for the opportunity, Thankful to MYSELF, MY FAMILY and anyone who knows me.

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Lorraine Cameron

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

We approached about 15 organisations with no success, we wanted to live together. I was intrigued by a self-build leaflet in a Lewisham housing office. My partner had a dream to build his own home and I was quite good at DIY. We visited the scheme, it was really interesting. We passed our trial period but there were no vacancies. We decided to volunteer while we were waiting for a place on the scheme. We took it seriously, turning up every week. After several months a place became available and we joined the scheme. It was LOVELY. To be accepted.

The building was challenging, lots of ups and downs. We were a disparate group of people. People wanted to do their own thing. There were a few headbutting disagreements. A major issue were the required hours. People had carer responsibilities, full time work and meeting their contractual hours was difficult.

But I really enjoyed the building process: I enjoyed climbing on the scaffold, being on the roof, seeing the houses emerge from the mud. It was a long process but great to be involved in building all these homes.

The arson attacks were incredibly disappointing. People were angry and most of us were afraid. It made me question WHY I WAS BUILDING and DO I WANT TO LIVE HERE? The prospect of a house DROVE ME FORWARD. It was great that you found extra resources to finish the homes as some decided to give up on the building.

The self-build helped me develop resilience, a mental toughness. We JUST KEPT ON GOING, I’d seen the mud, seen the frames go up and I wanted to see it COMPLETED. To get a home at the end of it was GREAT, I AM SO VERY PROUD OF WHAT I DID. There is a LEGACY our children can see that their parents did something great together. My son has some idea about my role hopefully this exhibition will inform and inspire him. He has an awareness of the eco issues hopefully this will show him that his mum was involved in and creating London’s first social housing with grass roofs.

You need a strong group, NOT necessarily like each other but focused on the goal of building a community of homes. There can be LOTS OF CONFLICT. BE PATIENT AND PERSISTENT!

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Charmaine McNally

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

I was overcrowded with three kids in one room. I’d never picked up a hammer before but after the first meeting I knew it was for me. The biggest thing I got from it was confidence, belief in myself and my abilities to solve issues. I had to go to loads of meetings and talk with lots of professional people I had never met before: builders, architects, housing managers, suppliers. I was DESPERATE for my house and I needed to deal with these situations to make my DREAM a REALITY. I NEVER LOOKED BACK.

The physical work was a challenge but I was at my fittest I’d ever been once I adjusted. I am EXTREMELY HAPPY. EVERYDAY I walk in and I am SO PROUD AND GRATEFUL for the transformation it has had on me and my kids. They grew up seeing that if you hold on to your vision and keep working through the setbacks you WILL get it done.

It’s ALL POSITIVE for me. I’ve created a beautiful environment for my kids. Our stress levels have come right down as they each have their own large room and the tower block flat with pigeon crap on the balcony has been replaced by this lovely garden which runs down to the river. From being caged in during winter to a lush environment.

Another benefit was I was taken out of my comfort zone working with strangers. We had to learn to compromise to create a community. It was fulfilling for us to work as one whole unit to be able to live in these wonderful homes. The biggest challenge was the individualism of some people. Interestingly those more self focused are no longer living here and those who worked as a team are still close and living here 20 years after completion.

The legacy of my self-build is that my family have grown up in a safe environment where we know are neighbours. I was inspired by the build to set up my own womenled building company which had up to 11 employees; a great experience for me. My eldest son has built his own house and is onto his second now. My children are very confident, even though things may appear out of reach, they push and go for it. They say its because they’ve seen me struggle and achieve my dream.

I’m very proud to live in an eco house and although we couldn’t get the solar paneling we wanted during the build, I was involved in securing the deal which means we have free electricity. It was it was 100% worth it to me. And when I’m in my rocking chair, this will be one of the moments I will reflect back on. I just know it because I had a terrific time. Actually, living in this environment is absolutely wonderful. And I do thank my lucky stars that I was given that opportunity to take part.

 

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Tomorrow is Built Today: Andrew Fairclough

Image: Courtesy of Tim Oshodi

Transcription

I was in housing need. I saw a self-build leaflet, appealed to me. It required NO money. Both my father and uncle had built their homes in the Caribbean.

It took much longer than I expected. I put that down to lots of people not doing their required hours and poor organisation of the work. We didn’t work in teams systematically working through tasks. I felt a lot of FRUSTRATION.

It had taken two years, so initially, I just felt RELIEF that I finished. However when I walked along the street I could see this row of beautiful houses glistening. I felt REALLY GOOD. I got a lot of confidence. I got a good looking home that I BUILT. It’s a warm and cosy. I feel contented that we had created a COMMUNITY and even though several people have moved on I still talk to my neighbours a lot more than others do in London.

I’d say to any person in housing need, this will be challenging, you don’t know how you will cope with the STRESS. However it is WELL WORTH IT, you get a warm house that is affordable and will be able to pass it unto your relatives.

 

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