Welcome to the Design District Journal

by Helen Arvanitakis

Here we’ll be introducing you to the Design District and all those who’ve helped us on this journey. Once we’re open you can look forward to all sorts of updates, including recordings of the many events, interviews and happenings we have planned. But to begin with, a little more about what exactly the Design District is…

A home for ideas

A few years ago, a handful of mavericks — aka the leadership at Knight Dragon — came up with a novel and daring idea. In a spectacular anti-developer move, they decided that rather than trade off the value creatives add to real estate by turning their workplaces into high end residential developments, they’d build a place especially for the creative industries — one that would never become something else.

The design process was launched with the selection of eight extraordinary architecture practices. Asked to work in isolation (no conferring!) they went off and fulfilled the brief, regrouping with proposals for 16 unique buildings, intended to house at least 1,800 creatives, all in one landscaped location at the heart of the Greenwich Peninsula.

But the Design District is about more than just buildings. We intend to make it a home for ideas, as well as a supportive environment where creatives can thrive. Our mission is to create a magnetic centre of activity — a place for a vibrant and engaged community of free thinkers.

We’re here to keep London creative.Artists, designers, makers and innovators are at the heart of what makes our city great. Our reputation as one of the most forward-thinking metropolises in the world draws multicultural talent from around the globe.

However, London is also one of the most expensive cities, and the disconnect between earnings and the cost of operating is ever-increasing. In particular our creative communities are under threat from massive rent hikes. Many are finding themselves squeezed out, even from some recently formed creative districts.

The Design District will attempt to be an antidote to this — not a “meanwhile” space, but a permanent fixture on the London skyline.  Flexible leases that respond to new ways of working (especially necessary post-Covid-19) will enable businesses to grow, or shrink, in one place.

A community of creatives

We’ll also be supporting our community in other ways. For example, the excellent events programme we have planned, which we think our tenants will find spot on for their needs. Covering everything from tax to HR, software to hardware, it’ll also include inspirational and thoughtful leadership sessions. There’ll be business services available too, provided by experts in intellectual property, employment law, and other important topics. Support will also come from key tenants in the district who are able to offer workshops, libraries, photographic and recording studios, sport, food, pop-up spaces and much more.

As mentioned, the space are designed by creatives for creatives. So of course this means natural ventilation, huge north light windows and fantastic ceiling heights. They have shallow floor plates so wherever you are, it’s never too far from a window. There are great circulation spaces too, providing plenty of opportunity to bump into colleagues and friends, reinforcing the connection between all tenants.

We very much hope to have everything here that a creative might need, all set within a beautiful landscape and these amazing buildings.

About the Author

Helen Arvanitakis

Design District's Director, Helen, expertise and love for the creative industries comes from running her own consulting business for creative service providers, as well as 10 years spent leading the Tom Dixon design team. It’s Helen’s job — as she puts it — ‘to make sure the vision becomes a reality.’