Open House Festival

A House for Artists

event, community/cultural, residence

Apparata, 2020

36 Linton Rd, Barking, IG11 8SE

A House for Artists is an ambitious project, designed to provide affordable, sustainable housing for artists, who will offer long-term civic and cultural engagement for communities in Barking Town Centre. Drop in to the creative workshop. This project is supported by the Mayor of London.

Getting there






238, 5

Additional travel info

A House for Artists is less than 10 minutes walk from Barking Station.




A House for Artists

The first of its kind in the UK, A House for Artists, provides flexible living space for fourteen artists and their families, with studio workspaces, a ground-floor community space and a shared working yard that can be opened to the public.

Combining public-facing spaces and artist studios with an innovative housing model, its deliberate transparency invites the public in, while the spatial arrangement of the flats gives residents the option of shared spaces without compromising their privacy.

A House for Artists was co-commissioned by Create London and London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and designed by APPARATA, an architecture, design and research practice based in East London.

Playful design

A House for Artists has a dual role as both a public and domestic building, made up from playful stacked shapes. A two-storey triangular form allows for variation from the standard apartment type, and better connects to the surrounding terraced housing and blocks. The upper floors provide twelve apartments, while the ground floor accommodates an ongoing public arts programme.


The design aims to support the forming of communities both inside the building and within the local area, through shared entrance patios and courtyard, and a street facing public space. Resident artists can use the ground floor as work studios for their own practices as well as for the public programme, while the apartments offer co-housing possibilities. Each set of three apartments shares a communal outdoor space scaled for eating and working together, as well as access. One floor of apartments has double doors in the party walls, creating optional and flexible shared living possibilities, such as for parties, childcare or co-working.

Why artists?

The model is simple: artists are offered tenancy at 65% of market rent in exchange for a commitment to dedicating half a day a week each, to deliver a free public programme in the community space. The public programme will ensure the provision of skills and creative expertise for the local community, helping to remove barriers to arts engagement and foster inclusive, creative ways of using civic spaces.

The project lives strategically in policy around inclusive growth, specifically looking at increasing participation in culture; exploring the social role of the artist in the context of local state austerity; our interest in how neighbourhoods function; and in participation and engagement in culture in places where artists are living and working.

Why in Barking?

Barking and Dagenham has some of the lowest levels of cultural participation in culture in Britain. The idea for A House for Artists emerged when the borough described the town centre as an Artists Enterprise Zone, to be achieved by repurposing unused ground floor retail spaces as affordable artists’ studios. Create helped refine the thinking and extend the project’s ambition, proposing a new model of socially responsible tenancy that can support cultural participation, proposing what Leader Darren Rodwell has called “a new and better way to pay your rent by being nice to your neighbours”.


The building is constructed using a single skin of 50% GGBS concrete, whereby half the cement is substituted with a by-product of the steel industry, and other material build-ups are lean. The formwork was made using standard reusable parts and left unlined, reducing waste on site. Exposed ceilings provide thermal mass to reduce overheating, while covered walkways reduce solar gain at the hottest time of day. Dual aspect openings allow natural cross-ventilation, and hot water is provided through a communal Air Source Heat Pump. The building has over 20% less embodied carbon than the RIBA 2030 climate challenge target and GLA aspirational target.

Who's behind it?

A House For Artists is the first residential project by Create London, co-commissioned with London Borough of Barking & Dagenham following an invited competition in 2016. APPARATA are the project architects - following previous work with Create to transform the White House on Green Lane in Dagenham into a space for artist residencies and community workshops; and the former Manor Park Library in the London Borough of Newham to provide artists’ studios, public-access printing and publishing, and informal education activities for the local community.

To express an interest in future vacancies in the building or to join the mailing list, please write to:

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