150 years ago Peckham was one of the biggest shopping destinations in England, rivalling even Oxford Street.
Although Peckham has always been a bustling cultural hub, it’s only over the past few years that outsiders have been flocking in again – The only difference is that today’s visitors are more likely to be in search of craft beers and vegan food than stockings and bonnets.
Peckham Levels officially opened last month, and this week we finally took the opportunity to take a visit. From its inception, Peckham Levels was intended to be a ‘cultural destination’ where local artists, business owners and entrepreneurs could come together. In addition to studio spaces there would be bars and food stalls that could be enjoyed by the wider public.
The 1970s Brutalist carpark is a huge space with a lot of potential, so we were looking forward to see how Carl Turner Architects had approached the challenge.
The first thing any visitor to the levels will see is a ‘Peckham Levels’ mural painted in pop-art style font, designed by local artist Linda Scott who was inspired by the epic orange sunsets visible from the carpark roof. After you enter the building there are four flights of stairs up to the Levels and following in the footsteps of the Instagram-famous pink staircase leading up to Frank’s, each floor is painted in various shades of orange, pink, blue and green.
“the interior designers involved have done a fantastic job of creating different moods as you move through the open plan space.”
Inside, the main space is cavernous. Food stalls line one of the walls, serving Kurdish, French and Chinese fare. South Londoners might be disappointed that there’s no Morleys, but luckily Drums & Flats are on hand to satisfy any Friday night fried chicken cravings. Despite the open plan layout, the interior designers involved have done a fantastic job of creating different moods as you move through the space. After the food hall, with its utilitarian day-to-night aesthetic, the next stop is Near & Far, the upscale millennial pink and tropical print cocktail space designed by Finch Interiors. Elsewhere, there’s a yoga studio, vegan cafe, hair salon and Ghost Notes, a nightclub managed by the same team behind the White Hart and the Montpellier.
It would be easy to argue – and many have – that Peckham is already full of similar places for people to come and have a drink and some food. But, like a friend of mine said recently, ‘that’s just what people want’, and all the evidence so far indicates that Peckham Levels is going to be very popular.