Last night we were privileged guests at a small event to celebrate an income generation milestone for an inspiring youth project. We’ve been delivering fundraising support to SPUD (Space, Placemaking, and Urban Design) Youth for just over a year now. SPUD is an award winning workshop programme run for young people in their teens, who are interested in architecture, urban design and public art. The project dream that’s about to be pushed into the build phase and become a reality is called the Handlebar Cafe.
What is Handlebar Cafe?
- A cycle themed cafe and workshop open to everyone.
- It will offer bike maintenance, events and organised rides.
- The cafe will be owned by arts charity SPUD and operated by local Community Interest Company Bespoke Biking.
- Echoing the shapes of two train carriages passing on the railway bridge.
- Crafted largely from timber and a model of sustainable design.
Prior to SPUD Youth securing premises in Sway, ArchitecturePLB hosted the SPUD Youth workshops at their offices in Winchester. This was where the group conceived the idea for the Handlebar Cafe back in 2014. It was fitting that ArchitecturePLB co-hosted yesterday’s event with Paris Smith, who’ve delivered pro-bono legal support to the project since its conception. Investors, in-kind sponsors, young people who’ve been part of SPUD Youth, and the project planning team came together to mark the point at which an idea conceived by a group of young people became a financially viable reality. This gave an opportunity to reflect on the journey, and to look forward.
Reflecting and Looking Ahead
Having been treated to a glass of red, and a couple tasty canapés we were all set to hear from Mark Drury, one of the directors at SPUD Youth. Mark gave a potted project history before handing the stage to Josh, Sebbie, and Alex who were part of SPUD Youth back in 2014. These three young men presented confidently, which came as no surprise given their experience in pitching their concept to councillors in order to gain backing of the local authorities.
Each of these three young people gave a different perspective on SPUD Youth, or the Handlebar Cafe project, and what it means to them. In all three cases, the opportunity to explore public art and architecture at a young age has given them a sense of direction for their future careers. Josh is just in his first year at college, looking at universities, and very much seeing architecture as his direction,
“what SPUD, and this project, has given me is a clear direction.”
Sebbie had the Handlebar Cafe as a portfolio piece which was instrumental in his successful application to Kingston University. Alex is reading architecture at Cardiff.
Prior to the evening, we’d been working directly with Mark on securing funding. Fundraising support is what we do in our every day, it’s our experience and passion. We love being in a position to share our expertise so that others can focus on using their experience and passion to make a difference in our communities. Seeing SPUD brought to life through the powerful testimony of young people accessing the workshops left us excited for these guys to see their idea develop and become a reality.
As Winchester school kids, they saw a need for a local cycling hub. A community cafe where cyclists could start or break their journey, hire bikes, grab a coffee while they have a puncture repaired, or simply meet. They researched a location in line with the opening of a Sustrans cycle route, finding what they believed to be a perfect spot. They designed buildings in keeping with the heritage of the location, originally intending to repurpose train carriages as the buildings for the cafe. They’ve seen this concept evolve, retaining the shape of the original design, but using more appropriate materials to deliver the project in a sustainable way. As the concept had the backing of the local authorities, all that remained was to secure the funding and push the project into build … Oh, and to find an operational partner to utilise space, running the cycle hub and cafe on a day to day basis.
Mark, and the SPUD Youth team, let Heather Evans share the future for the Handlebar Cafe and cycle hub. If passion were the only requirement to fund, build, fit out, staff, and run this project, Heather would have it sewn up by now. She engaged us all with her story about how Bespoke Biking was seeking a cafe / hub to work from and how, on the very same day that she’d secured £15,000 in funding to support Bespoke Biking, she saw Alex on the front page of the Hampshire Chronicle with his model of the Handlebar Cafe. A match made in heaven.
All things being equal, the Handlebar Cafe will start to become a physical reality this summer. With the build being complete this year, the handover to Bespoke Biking is due early 2019. We will be working alongside Bespoke Biking giving fundraising support to take forward the next phase of income which will deliver the fit out of the cafe space and cycle workshop. Once open, the cafe and cycle hub will be generating income to support both SPUD and Bespoke Biking in a more sustainable way for both.