Paintworks began as a genuine attempt to regenerate a mixed use district centred primarily on a sense of community and in so doing provide a model for others to build on elsewhere. From the beginning Paintworks steered away from slick marketing and fashion-conscious styling. The aim was to create something simpler, more substantive. Much of the first phase was let or sold by word of mouth.
“Considerable effort went into the intimacy of the street scene, the public areas and hub spaces. This is in deliberate contrast to insular ‘lifestyle’ residential accommodation and soulless anonymous business parks, where people are close together but almost intentionally cut off and separated. Paintworks aimed to be a place where ‘lifestyle living and working’ was not just marketing hype, but somewhere people do actually want to live, want to work and want to interact with others.”
Ashley Nicholson’s initial concept sketches included walkways, the desire to place different uses side by side and to open up communal areas within the buildings.
The mix of creative tenants, exhibition/event space and popular café/bar quickly defined a distinctive emerging character in Paintworks' early years.