Community driven architecture
October Books was originally formed in 1977 in Portswood High Street, Southampton. As is a forward thinking, not-for-profit co-operative independent book shop they had decided they needed to free themselves from the large rental being paid to their landlord, so in January 2018 they started planning for a new future.
Setting up in a collaborative consortium with a local homeless charity ‘The Society of St James’ they successful raised over £300,000 through various community engagement fundraising methods, with this they were able to purchase the former NatWest Bank on Portswood High Street, a grand Neo Classical Victorian designed bank. Studio : B.A.D Architects where appointed to undertake an architectural feasibility study and planning application to re imagine not only the book shop of the future, but also the future of the high street.
The key proposal converted the ground floor to the new book shop and community space. The first and second floors are residential units for the homeless charity ‘The Society of St James’. Quirky details have remained in the design. It was possible to reuse the existing concrete and steel bank vault, which now acts as the book shop stock collection and the existing cash machine steel vault is now encapsulated within the shop counter.
At the rear of the ground floor a ‘street’ was created that stitches together the various activities that take place in the building. The concept conceived around social interaction, so that everyone within the community can feel part of the community spirit within the welcoming spaces of the street.
The book shop opened in Nov 2018, with a human chain of over 200 people one Sunday morning organised to move thousands of books from the old shop to new one along the high street, an act that highlighted the essence of the building and what it means the community.