Variant Office LLP is a small London based architecture and planning practice involved in housing and community design projects. We have been collaborating with the Calthorpe Project for over a year now in developing their public spaces, including their play area for under 5s.
The Calthorpe Project is an inner city community garden and centre which exists to improve the physical and emotional well-being of those who live, work or study in Camden and surrounding areas. Our core services include supervised play for children 0-14 and their families; A horticultural volunteering and training programme for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues; Sustainable food growing, vegetarian cafe and waste recycling facility; Sports coaching and training for young people; Community classes and activities with local partner organisations.
People from all cultural and diverse backgrounds participate and enrich our activities. Our volunteer and training programme helps people learn new skills, provides opportunity for social interaction and outdoor exercise. Environmental and food growing sessions encourage and develop awareness of organic methods and composting. Bangladeshi women, older people and families have their own mini allotments encouraging community integration. Our 5-a-side futsal pitch provides programmes to improve health and well-being for young people as well as generating vital revenue from hiring. We provide respite from over crowded housing in our Early Years drop in and weekend play provision for children.
The Calthorpe Project began in the 1980s when Camden, who onwed the land, were preparing to sell the land for offices. Local residents were concerned about the impact on their lives of such a large development on their doorstep and there followed a local campaign which included petitions, lobbying councilors and sending a delegation to Camden Council. The communities efforts were rewarded and in June 1983 Camden allocated money to develop the site for gardens, play space and under fives activities for the residents of Kings Cross. In 1984 the Calthorpe Project became a charity and a company limited by guarantee.