The Creative Exchange is adjacent to Longsands College, which specialises in technology, media and the arts. These are, of course, key areas of economic growth and potential creativity. The Creative Exchange will serve about 20 fledgling firms working in these areas, with the opportunity for exchange of ideas with college students, as well as with each other. The firms’ activities will range from the physical making of prototypes or artworks to more ephemeral forms of creativity, which are not rooted to any particular place and require broadband access more than the town. 5th Studio recognized the importance of a dialogue between these two forms of creativity, and was aware that the Creative Exchange was not only an addition to the college, but an important element in St Neots’ urban transformation.

Click Here To View The Full Article
5th Studio’s Creative Exchange for St Neots in Cambridgeshire is a wonderful example of why it’s a good idea to hire a decent architect. In principle, an enterprise centre is a good thing; in practice, the architecture can bow to the economics, resulting in repetitive rentable space off a corridor. The ingenuity of Tom Holbrook and his team at 5th Studio allowed the Creative Exchange to fulfil its potential on several levels – socially, politically, urbanistically, architecturally.

Relics of the 4ft-tall monk named Saint Neot made their way from Cornwall to Cambridgeshire in the Middle Ages, and christened this small town. Its market square has echoes of a forum or central square, with rich structure behind it. But today, agricultural market towns within commuting distance of London are forced to survive as part of the government’s housing policy. This has several effects. Firstly, the corporate identity of the market square surrenders its authority to the extensive patterns of privacy that comprise housing today. Secondly, St Neots has become more directly related to London than to its neighbours, such as Cambridge or Bedford. Thirdly, renewal comes from the industries located on the periphery of the town, not from the market square.
13 November 2008
A Civic Endeaver