Tomorrow is Built Today

Lewisham’s Black-led community self-build movement

Tomorrow is Built Today celebrates the untold story of Lewisham’s pioneering Black-led self-build movement told through the memories of those who overcame institutional barriers and racist arson attacks to create award winning eco-homes across the borough.

Project lead, original self-builder and community-led regeneration consultant, Tim Oshodi, shared his skills and experiences, and those of other self-builders, to inspire Lewisham’s younger generation with the risks and rewards of using collective action to meet individual needs.

To tell this story, the project gathered memories and archival materials, produced a documentary film, and hosted an immersive exhibition in a self-build home on Nubia Way.


Image: Brockley Park / Lowther Hill Site

In the mid-90s, a co-operative of African and Caribbean Londoners named Fusions Jameen formed for the purpose of developing a radical housing solution. The cooperative worked with a housing association to build the homes themselves.

This gave the builders a stake in the properties paid not with cash but with labour and secured a rent level of 30% below other social housing.

The builders learned everything from carpentry to plumbing and electrics, forming a close-knit community in the process. During construction, one member of the co-op volunteered each night to guard the site.

Image: Chinbrook Meadows site

Watch this 90s camcorder film documenting the challenges and experiences of the self-builders.

The scheme provided practical experience for over 80 NVQ trainees and a legacy of 36 award winning eco-homes in Honor Oak, Nubia Way and Chinbrook Meadows. The Chinbrook build was women-led and integrated the naturalisation of the River Quaggy.

The schemes also led to the creation of the Downham Community Land Trust that continues to contribute to the wider re-generation of the neighbourhood including the restoration of a local woodland.

Today, the self-builds’ thriving mixed heritage community across their three schemes is a testament to the legacy of Black-led community self-build for rent.

Image: Nubia Way site


In September 2022, Tim opened his home in Nubia Way to the public as part of Open House London, creating an immersive experience to exhibit what is achievable when collective action delivers individual needs.

Outside, Tim curated a series of exhibition boards, giving a platform for fellow self-builders to tell their stories and explain the current challenges surrounding self-builds.

Visit the digital archive to read the personal experiences of the self-builders

A self-build development in Lewisham
Image: Nubia Way shortly after completion in 1997 (Andre Howard)

Also on display was a film, created and filmed by Tim, featuring interviews with self-builders about the challenges and rewards of building eco-friendly homes.

The film was later screened at Goldsmiths to a public audience followed by an informal Q&A with original self-builders that inspired a conversation around alternative forms of home ownership.

Visit the Virtual Museum space to explore the wealth of content gathered and created for the project and discover how the tomorrow we seek can be built today!

Project Lead, Tim Oshodi

I think the project is important because it shows the tremendous impact community self-build can achieve. We built award winning eco-housing of the highest standards. Our rents are much more affordable than social rent. The next generation is crying out for more community self-build for rent.

Too many people falsely claim credit for the self-build schemes I led. This film gives the real self-builders the prominence they deserve.

I am most proud of how we managed to feature the voices of the self-builders from all three of Fusion’s Lewisham schemes. The photo exhibition was fantastic. The support of Goldsmiths University: Will Cenci,  John Price and Ben Prideaux was invaluable and raised the quality and ethical impact of the project.

The 3D scan containing the exhibition has been praised by a leading eco architect. I was also extremely pleased with the screening which led to a great debate and hopefully more self- build opportunities are being created from the on-going discussions.

The immediate future is the construction of the sculpture when planning permission has been secured. I am also planning on holding a series of self-build events to see if we can meet the next generation’s need for social housing.

Man in hi-vis is drilling screws into a wooden structure by a lake
Image: Construction of the Tomorrow is Built Today Pavilion in Beckenham Place Park

The pavilion in Beckenham Place Park celebrates collective community solutions to individual housing needs. It was crafted using the same Walter Segal principles as Nubia Way, the first social housing in London with green sedum roofs incorporating sustainable building methods.

It’s great to celebrate our past and, even better, to learn the lesson that the tomorrow we seek is built today.

Visit the archive to explore memories of Lewisham’s pioneering black-led self build schemes.

The Tomorrow is Built Today education pack is available here.

Project team

  • Tim Oshodi, Community-led Regeneration Consultant