The £2million Phase 2 build of more workspaces at Cornwall’s nationally acclaimed Krowji creative hub is on track for opening mid-Autumn with the Jewell Construction team battling bad winter weather and the Covid 19 lockdown to adapt effectively to “new normal” work practices at the Redruth site.
With the final stages of the Percy Williams Building Phase2 coming into impressive focus, prospective tenants and anyone interested in the project can see for themselves the start of the beautiful spaces taking shape – big and small – available to inspire work of all varieties, when Krowji tenants take part in Open Studios Cornwall from 29th August to 6th Sept 2020.
The Phase 2 scheme, project managed for Krowji by Truro-based Currie & Brown, sees the creation of a further 21 “BREEAM Excellent” studios, linked by a bridge to the £3.7 million Phase 1 building which opened in 2015. They will add coveted Krowji workspaces for around 40 extra people to the current community of 200 working in the arts and creative industries on the site of Redruth’s Old Grammar School.
“It’s been a turbulent year and lockdown was challenging for us as it was for everyone – but it is great to feel we are back on track with an opening of our fantastic new building in sight,” says Krowji Founder and Creative Kernow Chief Executive Ross Williams. “We are always an optimistic working community here and we support each other through thick and thin. We’ve managed to help our artists, creatives and businesses work safely right through lockdown and beyond and now we have a waiting list on many of our new studios and spaces so we feel very positive about the future.”
The opening of the new building is likely to be one of the final acts in Ross’s career with Creative Kernow and Krowji – after nearly 30 years with the organisation he is due to retire by the end of this year, though he will still be involved in other projects in Redruth. The task of recruiting not just a new CEO, but also Finance Director has just begun – with Sue Scregg announcing her retirement after 8 years with Krowji and Creative Kernow’s Finances.
Enhancing the Krowji ambience will be the arrival of a new café run by the brilliant, ethical, Falmouth-based Stones Bakery who will be running a pop-up during the Open Studios week, ahead of work on the café space and an official opening in October.
“We were ready to begin work on the cafe in March and of course lockdown postponed that,” says Stones’ Rosie Hambling, “but we are very excited to be back on track to create a welcoming space for the Krowji creative community to enjoy delicious food.”
The Krowji expansion has been the work of many years of meticulous planning by Ross and the Krowji team and has emerged from an ever-increasing demand for studio space beyond that which was available in the old grammar school buildings.
They devised a state-of-the-art eco building, with Phase 1 providing 50 new studios and workspaces for a further 100 people in 2015. These spaces have complemented those in the older buildings, helping regenerate the local community and nurture creative talents from Cornwall and beyond far into the future.
As with Phase 1, Phase 2 has been made possible mainly by grants from the European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council. The expansion creates high quality, fit-for-purpose workspace – all of which is helping the ongoing regeneration of the local area and at the same time maintains Krowji’s status among the top creative communities in the country.
Improvements to the new building, with lessons learnt in Phase 1, include larger communal tea and wash room facilities, more small studio spaces and window improvements to maximise light and ventilation. Krowji have also been working with Quay Design Studio on new site signage to improve visitor experience at the site.
“It is a real joy to be seeing our ambitious dreams for Krowji become reality,” says Ross. “Our business plan has been robust and we’ve been operating at capacity, providing inspirational work spaces of all shapes and sizes which are hugely popular among our community of tenants. We already know the new workshops and studios are in high demand.”
Krowji – meaning “workshop” in a rough translation from Cornish – has come a long way since Ross Williams and the dedicated Creative Kernow charity team breathed new life into the 1907 Redruth grammar school buildings 15 years ago. With early renovation work mostly self-financed from rental income they created an iconic Cornish arts hub, originally a working home for around 100 artists, “makers” and businesses as well as Cornwall’s key arts-sector agencies.
To discover more about the Krowji journey which has more than doubled the original space from historic to state of the art studios, and to find out more about Krowji, its work and partners, as well as progress on Phase 2 of its flagship building project please visit https://www.krowji.org.uk/about/redevelopment/