Scrubbed and open: exterior post-refurb. Photo: © Mckenzie Brown

Scrubbed and open: exterior post-refurb. Photo: © Mckenzie Brown

The iconic Temperance Hospital – you know, the derelict Victorian building you always see on the top of the bus going down into the West End – is properly back in biz form today.  Well, until next year – or the year after – when it’s finally mown down as part of the HS2 development. (Very) sad face.

But at least for now it can be of use by helping the community and supporting young people and fledgling creatives with cheap co-working space.

From the look of these pics, we reckon Camden Collective – the regeneration project that acquires vacant and underused spaces and refurbishes them – has done a stirling job. To transform the place, they teamed up with the Collaborative Design and Build and the Clapton-based Redundant Architects Recreation Association (RARA).

The upshot of the three-month works on the Insull Wing is three floors of workspace for creative startups, combining hot-desking, event space, rehearsal rooms, workshops, classrooms and subsidised individual lockable offices. Oh, with a colourful green roof to boot (which sort of handily covers up those cracks too, right?)

Exterior pre-refurb 002. Photo: Duncan Nicholl

Exterior pre-refurb 002. Photo: Duncan Nicholl

So why was it built at all? The London Temperance Hospital (later the National Temperance Hospital) opened in 1873 in Gower Street, before moving to Hampstead Road in 1885, where the use of alcohol was prohibited – except in the most extreme circumstances.

Exterior pre-refurb. Photo: © Duncan Nicholl

Exterior pre-refurb. Photo: © Duncan Nicholl

The temperance movement encouraged abstinence, thinking alcohol responsible for many of society’s ills. They were also dubious about the restorative qualities of the booze, hoping to save money and improve staff efficiency by running a hospital based on their beliefs. According to one advert, the Temperance Hospital saved over £80,000 a year by staying sober.

When it shut in 1990, it had a unit for the treatment of torture victims. In between it was a home to a host of different areas of medicine, from dentistry to casualty.

Main space post-refurb Photo © Duncan Nicholls

Main space post-refurb Photo © Duncan Nicholls

Since the hospital packed up, the building – as we all know – stood empty and fell into disrepair. But, as Camden Collective understand, its elegance isn’t totally lost (for now, at least). It deserves one last fling until its fate is sealed.

So here’s to its reinvention as a potential hotbed for ideas, before those pesky developers move in in 2017 – and the area becomes a building site for the best part of 15 years.

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Take a tour of the Temperance building at their free opening bash tonight. More details on how to apply for space are here
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