East Quay: a new arts and community landmark

We are delighted that The East Quay Arts Centre in Watchet officially opened on Friday, 26th November. MEA Clark have provided Quantity Surveying and Contract Administration services to this exciting new development which had its fair share of challenges during the build including storm battered and damaged harbour walls… and of course various lockdowns!

The East Quay Arts Centre was designed by Invisible Studio, with Ellis Williams Architects acting from RIBA stage 4 and now provides a new cultural hub for the town and surrounding area. Commissioned and run by Onion Collective CIC, a local female-led not-for-profit social enterprise, the new centre features two contemporary art galleries, 11 artist studios, a paper mill, a geology workshop, print studio, restaurant, education space and five accommodation pods arranged across the top of the building.

The centre draws inspiration from both the built environment and the natural landscape. A solid plinth reflects the harbour wall and nearby cliffs, containing the reception, main gallery space, restaurant and artists’ studios. External stairs lead up to the upper level which connects directly to coastal paths, allowing East Quay to become a porous object that can be climbed, traversed and explored. The ground-floor restaurant opens out onto a new public space where local people and visitors alike can sit and enjoy views back into town as well as the ships in the dock and the sea beyond.

East Quay received funding from multiple sources, such as the Heart of the South West LEP’s Getting Building Fund and Arts Council England, including £5.3m from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

The project has been attracted a lot of press attention recently and links to news stories are below:

Architects Journal: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/buildings/invisible-studios-arts-centre-seeks-to-unlock-somerset-seaside-towns-stagnation

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/oct/20/watchet-east-quay-arts-centre-onion-collective

Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/4d54fa9e-7faa-45fe-bc11-7b38496ac164

Dezeen: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/11/10/east-quay-arts-centre-watchet-onion-collective-invisible-studio/

Wallpaper: https://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/east-quay-community-centre-onion-collective-piers-taylor-invisible-studio-architects-watchet-uk

Icon: https://www.iconeye.com/architecture/east-quay-arts-centre-watchet

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