Nubia Way: the untold story of Black-led self-build in Lewisham
The Architecture Foundation is asking for your help to raise £5,000 to make a short documentary about Nubia Way, a black-led self-build housing scheme built almost 25 years ago in Lewisham.
Nubia Way is an unassuming cul-de-sac of thirteen timber-framed houses in the Downham area of Lewisham, London, built in 1997 following the principles of Walter Segal. The scheme was built by Fusions Jameen, London’s first black-led housing co-operative, who gave priority to applicants in housing need and those of African and Caribbean descent. The co-operative provided social housing for those who found themselves excluded from the housing market and other co-operatives.
Experimenting with a new economic housing model, they offered self-builders long-term discounted rents in return for building the homes. All thirteen houses remain socially rented. Nubia Way was designed with architectural consultancy from Architype, using pioneering low-carbon environmental technology, which included recycled insulation and sedum grass roofs.
Why is this film important?
We believe that Nubia Way has been largely overlooked in architectural discourse, especially when compared to appraisals of earlier self-built housing projects by Walter Segal, such as Walter's Way and Segal Close. As part of the Architecture Foundation's continuing commitment to decolonising architectural history, we want to commission a team of filmmakers and researchers to make a short documentary that investigates the incredible story of this street.
Through interviews with the original self-builders, current residents, architects and economists who were involved in the scheme's construction, the film will explore the legacy of Nubia Way and examine how the act of self-building by a black-led group, otherwise excluded from secure housing, challenged existing social structures.
Who will be the creative team?
Timi Akindele-Ajani is a London based filmmaker and photographer who has worked in several parts of the creative industry. His films have screened around the world and tend to focus on the various complexities of the human experience.
Rosine Gibbs-Stevenson is curator and writer at the Architecture Foundation. She has led on the production of the AF Turns 30 programme, a series of films marking the AF's 30th anniversary. Last year, she co-hosted the 100 Day Studio which pioneered the adaption of architectural events to digital space during lockdown.
James Thormod is a writer and Project Lead at MAP Architecture. He has been researching Nubia Way and interviewing residents over the past year as part of his architectural history research project at London Metropolitan University. James was published as part of this year's 'Now You Know' publication by Sound Advice, which challenges discrimination in the built environment industry.
Rochelle Malcolm is a writer and PhD researcher in modern European history at Columbia University. Rochelle centres her projects on the history of African and Caribbean communities in Europe. Her current research focuses on the development of cities and access to housing in twentieth century Britain, including self build and cooperative housing initiatives like Nubia Way.
Mariam Aluede has just finished her second year studying Designing Cities: Planning and Architecture at University of Westminster. Previously, she completed her foundation year in Architecture at Central Saint Martins. She is interested in exploring city planning as well as the values and practices behind architecture.
How can you support us to make it happen?
The Architecture Foundation receives no public subsidy and is overwhelmingly reliant on the support of companies and individuals who value its work. We need your help to make this project happen.
If you would like to support us in our mission to celebrate lesser known architectural histories and promote different voices in the discussion about the city, please consider donating to our crowdfunder. Supporters who donate £500 and over will be acknowledged with a special mention in the film.