The Africa Centre Invites Tenders For Design of New HQ In Southwark

Africa Centre Architectural Design Tender Invite

The Africa Centre Invites Tenders For Design of New HQ In Southwark

The Africa Centre has invited Architectural design firms to tender for a project to design the organisation’s new headquarters in Southwark, London. Interested firms have been invited to develop a bold and creative design concept that embraces the aesthetic and cultural diversity of the African continent and its diaspora and reflects a contemporary pan-African vision.

he overall scheme was developed, with planning permission secured, in 2017 for work to the main four-storey building, known as Gunpowder House. In December 2018, the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund awarded £1.6 million towards the project, with the redevelopment representing a unique chance to create a new hub for the African and diaspora community and for all those interested in African and diaspora culture and heritage.


The Africa Centre is particularly interested to consider input from a range of creative voices and influences that will inform a pan-African aesthetic in areas such as: interior design, furniture and fittings, signage, graphic identity. It encourages a design approach that recognises culturally specific behaviours and sensibilities, and how these can positively inform not only the look and feel of the building but also the user experience.


For Architect firms that have submitted expressions of interest, The Africa Centre will host a daytime open briefing on Tuesday 16th April, to give further insight into The Africa Centre’s future plans, a tour of the site and answer any questions.


Following the move from its historic Covent Garden location to its new home in Southwark, this capital project comes at a pivotal moment of development for The Africa Centre, with a new permanent Director, a new team, new Trustees, and a major capital development, of which Gunpowder House forms part.


With a rich legacy stretching over six decades, The Africa Centre serves as a cultural hub that celebrates the diversity of Africa and its diaspora. It does this by promoting creativity and innovation in African thought, art, culture, business and entrepreneurship; its vision is of a contemporary 21st century Africa – vibrant, global and seated at the table.


Interested firms are invited to express interest to project managers, Cambridge CM, after which a list of participants will be selected to proceed to the next stage in the process. The design brief and further details can be made available by emailing an expression of interest to Cambridge CM, at from 2 April 2019.


The successful development will create an Africa Centre fit for the 21st century and a new home to meet the needs and aspirations of the next 50 years.

The Project Deliverables for Gunpowder House include:

  • a Café, Bar & Terrace (ground floor): with a strong African flavour
  • a Lounge Bar (first-floor) that can link internally to the second-floor Gallery and ground-floor Café, and via a bridge to The Hub and Performance Space in the two railway arches (Phase 4)
  • A Gallery (second floor): to exhibit African and diaspora artists as well as supporting exhibitions, film screenings and talks
  • A Learning and Research Centre (third floor): supporting engagement with schools, African language classes, a library of African literature plus academic research and partnerships
  • a Conference and Business Suite (fourth floor): hosting business meetings, conferences, interviews as well as receptions, private dining and parties


This will complement the existing use of two railway arches, with Arch 28 serving as The Africa Centre offices and The Hub (a co-working space for creatives and entrepreneurs), and Arch 29 as a pop-up performance/event space. Both Arches were developed with input from Designers Block and artist Yinka Ilori.


The new building will enable The Africa Centre to realise its five pillars of activity – culture, social, education, intellectual, entrepreneurship & innovation – and its vision to reflect a contemporary Africa.


“The redesign of Gunpowder House opens the next chapter in the story of The Africa Centre. We’re really excited to see how designers and architects rise to both the challenges and opportunities of designing a pan-African centre for the 21st century. It’s so important that members of our community have a place that they can call home; our central aim is to become the most welcoming cultural hub in London.”

The Africa Centre’s Director, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE


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