The future is local
At Patch, we have a big vision – to become a lighthouse for local life on UK high streets.
As Patch's Head of Product and Creative Director, I want to share our vision for the new spaces, explain our process and introduce some of the people we are collaborating with to create meaningful local centres for work, culture and community.
A family of spaces
I often get asked how we balance the importance of individuality in each Patch location with the goal of creating a national 'Work Near Home' network. I like to think about how we’re building a family of spaces - each with their own individual identity but connected by the same DNA.
Whilst different Patch locations may have some similar features, each will also have its own unique personality and features that reflects the character of the site and aspirations of its community.
In Twickenham, we're working in partnership with Richmond Council and the BIG South London programme to transform the former South Eastern Electricity Board - a prominent art deco building - at 42 York Street. Similarly, in High Wycombe, we're reimagining the old library into a new neighbourhood workspace and community venue. Both buildings have a rich social history deeply rooted in the local area, and we're excited to have the opportunity to reintroduce them to their communities and share their unique stories.
However, far more important than the buildings themselves will be the people who make it come alive - from the teams, to its members and the local community. This will be what sets each Patch apart.
Twickenham - a space for collaboration & innovation
The new Patch in Twickenham is brilliantly located in the centre of town, just a one-minute walk from Church Street's independent shops and restaurants, and the beautiful Twickenham Riverside. You can easily recognise the building by its art deco clock tower and facade with motifs of light bulbs and the founders of electricity: Watt, Ohm, and Faraday. These friezes tell the story of the building’s history and also help illustrate its new purpose as a space for innovation and collaboration.
Building on initial conversations with local residents and organisations, we worked with architecture practice Studio Nyali to develop the concept for transforming this building into a new neighbourhood workspace and cultural venue. Led by Bushra Mohamed and Nana Biamah-Ofosu, they describe how their concept for Patch aims “to facilitate innovation and creativity within the workspace, creating a series of spaces that centre on gathering, exchange and production.”
Our strategy for the building has three main aims:
- Open the blocked-up high street frontage and create a visible new platform for culture and community.
- Create publicly accessible spaces on the ground floor to support and celebrate collective learning, cultural production and exchange. Importantly, we’re aiming to partner with local education organisations to support a programme of free access to these spaces.
- Design workspaces on the first and second floors that reflect a variety of professional stages. So if you’re a hybrid worker, solopreneur, or startup, you’ll have access to a wonderful space that reflects your working rhythm.
We believe these design goals will help us create a distinctive and inspiring space that meets the needs and desires of the Twickenham community.
We’re committed to looking for opportunities for collaboration with local partners and businesses that reflect our values. In Twickenham, this has included collaborating with Dean Connell, founder of IAMDC, an interior and furniture designer with a focus on the future of work and the circular economy. Dean is developing a bespoke collection of timber furniture designed around moments of communality such as the cafe, the ‘kitchen’ table, the desk, the lounge. Along with Studio Nyali, Dean also studied at Kingston University and both studios' design approaches reflect South London’s culture of creativity and will form a central part of the character of Patch in Twickenham.
High Wycombe - a centre for community and creativity
We're reimagining the 1930s former library in High Wycombe into a vibrant new neighbourhood workspace and cultural venue. We’ve been digging through the archives and the images reveal the space’s rich history as an important local space for learning and community - something we want to ensure remains central to its new identity.
To transform this building, we are collaborating with Atelier Como, an interior design and architecture studio led by Ines Li-Wearing and Sheila Cortale. Ines explains “we’re re-energising the old library for community use, peeling back the layers to reveal some of its history and repurposing the spaces for a new lease of life". Atelier Como’s approach celebrates the building's civic history as a library and creates characterful new settings that reference High Wycombe's culture of creative production.
At the heart of the transformed space will be a locally-run café and event space, as well as publicly accessible meeting rooms and a pop-up retail space. We're also creating a generous, top-lit ‘reading room’ that will combine a coworking studio with a lounge, along with ‘studies’ for dedicated desks and a suite of private offices.
The space will also reflect the town's history of furniture making, combining contemporary design-led furniture with pieces from High Wycombe designers like Robin Day and Ercol.
We’re excited to welcome the community into the transformed space and see the connections and collaborations that will emerge.
Here comes the neighbourhood
The first step was to hold a series of workshops where we explored our team's and members' understanding of Patch's offer, impact and value. Then, in collaboration with Naresh, we distilled this exploration, defining Patch as ‘a lighthouse for local life,’ and articulating our aim ‘to shine a light on local work and connection, and act as a beacon for local culture and confidence.’
Our new identity reflects this vision and our core values. Each site has its own distinctive icon, designed by Ali to reflect the individual architecture of the building. He explains that “a key aim was to create brand elements that help Patch build recognisability across multiple locations, whilst allowing for local expression in the form of building symbols to distinguish and identify each specific space”. This creates a family of communities and spaces that are both individual and connected.
Zosia has also helped us articulate our strategy into a series of dynamic new messages, including ‘Here comes the neighbourhood'. This phrase captures Patch’s community focus, proximity to home, and the sense of belonging that we aim to support.
As part of this process, we commissioned the illustrator Linn Fritz to create a series of lively illustrations that speak to Patch and the world of ‘Work Near Home’ activities. These illustrations depict a variety of ‘Patch moments’, such as a parent walking with their child to school, a a group collaborating on a new idea, and someone settling down for a day of focused work.
The value of this work has been to help us tell the Patch story in a dynamic and relatable way and we’re excited to share our new identity and see the ‘Work Near Home’ community continue to grow.
Let’s build the ‘Work Near Home World’ together
I hope this has given you an idea of the people we are working with to make each Patch a fantastic local space for work, culture, and community. We can establish the foundation for this by creating beautifully designed spaces and hiring exceptional local teams to manage them.
However, it is up to the community to make it meaningful. The opening is just the beginning of the journey to becoming a valuable local space. If our vision resonates with you, please reach out and let us know by registering your interest.
Whether you're searching for alternatives to commuting, a focused day away from your kitchen table, a co-working studio to build your startup, or a venue to kick-start your community initiative, we can provide the space, and you can bring the ideas. We look forward to meeting you soon!