The Africa Centre
| NEW London Headquarters

The Africa Centre, has been at the heart of the African community for more than 50 years, promoting authentic African culture and being a home from home for the African diaspora.

In 2016, The Africa Centre received financial support from The Arts Council England, which helped them safeguard their future in London by purchasing 'Gunpowder House' in Southwark.

In 2018 further support through The Mayor of London's 'Good Growth Fund' allowed them to move forward with their redevelopment plans.

  • Client The Africa Centre
  • Architect Freehaus
  • Project Manager Cambridge CM
  • Cost Consultant Metric CCM
  • Services Consultant OR Consulting




Freehaus Architects and interior designer Tola Ojuolape were selected for their vision of the centre, focussing on creating “a platform for exchange and an embassy of optimism”.

The refurbishment was across four floors, basement, ground floor, first floor and second floor. The 32-week programme started with waterproofing the basement, modifications to the structure and internal layout, including new voids, and breaking through the first-floor slab for a feature staircase.

To maximise the floorplate and make provision for a café on the ground floor and a lounge/bar on the first floor, the building was extended front and back with a new terrace to the front of the building and a plant room, terrace, and new entrance to the rear.

New services were required throughout the building to facilitate the full catering facility and bar, as well as a new lift, dumbwaiter and fire and safety systems. We extended the existing riser to the roof and installed new plant for air conditioning and extraction systems. 

[Concept Imagery courtesy of Freehaus Architects]

The second floor was ear marked as a multi-functional cultural space for exhibitions and events. To increase hanging space for exhibits, Freehaus designed a system of moveable wall panels to give the centre flexibility when hosting solo artists and collaborative works.

The design scheme embraced a vibrant palette representative of African roots while remaining contemporary. The use of natural clay plaster walls in deep earthy tones, bespoke joinery and the fittings and furniture, which were primarily sourced from African makers, bring this building to life.

[Photography by Jonathan Banks]

The Africa Centre can now move forward and realise its five pillars of activity – culture, social, education, intellectual, entrepreneurship & innovation – with a platform for new and exciting programmes and events already well underway and getting amazing feedback and reviews.

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"'QOB Interiors provided tireless support and their problem-solving experience to this exciting refurbishment project. Every member of the QOB team was professional and collaborative and the end result is testament to their hard work"

Jonathan Hagos | Freehaus

Our refurbishment of Gunpowder House has transformed a dated 1960's office building into a welcoming and inclusive space where people can freely express themselves and showcase the richness and diversity of African culture.

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