October Books Portswood Road, Southampton Building, English Restoration Project, Architecture Images

October Books Portswood Road in Southampton

Retail Building Hampshire, Southern England design by STUDIO – B.a.d architects

25 June 2019

October Books in Portswood, Southampton

Architects: STUDIO – B.a.d

Location: Southampton, Hampshire, England, UK

October Books on Portswood Road, Southampton


October books was formed in 1977 in Southampton in Portswood High street. It is a non for profit co-operative radical neighborhood independent book shop. The shop itself is independent from any political organization, and looks to promote a fair and equal society.

October Books Portswood Road, Southampton

The book shop was featured in an article in the Guardian in June 2014, with Own Hatherley discussing “How the spirit of revolution lives on in radical bookshops “ and how it only survived that year, due to local financial contribution’s. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/19/revolution-radical-bookshopsoctober-books-southampton

October Books Portswood facade

In January 2018 the collective decided it was time to free itself from the large rental being paid to its land lord at the time and planned for a brighter future. The co-operative then entered into a collaborative consortium with a local homeless charity ‘The Society of St James’ with a view to purchasing their own building, a former Natwest Bank. To do this they had to raise £300,000 of community funds, selling loan stock and crowd funding.

By April 2018 this had been surpassed, with incredible community passion and engagement. The bank was purchased in April 2018 and Studio B.a.d where appointed to undertake a feasibility study and planning application to re imagine not only the book shop of the future, but the future of the high street!

exterior before:
October Books Portswood Road, Southampton exterior before

interior before:
October Books Portswood Road, Southampton interior before


In over 40 years the organization has changed significantly. Paid staff make the workforce, though volunteers provide a very valuable service to compliment this, and they no longer operate from a church hall, but from many houses, hostels, and offices throughout the county. The ethos that underpins their work has not changed though. Today the Society still work with people to identify their own needs, and to find ways that we can support them as Individuals to make the changes they want to see in their own lives.

The stock is comprised of general popular fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, alongside our traditional range of specialized radical books and magazines. Their specialty areas are social issues, adoption, humanities and political issues.

October Books Portswood Road facade

October books announced in January 2018 that they were working towards acquiring the old NatWest bank in Portswood and a bid was accepted in principle. The shop have been looking for new premises and the NatWest bank building provides more than enough space for the relocation of the bookshop. The bid is part of a consortium proposal with collaboration with other local organisations, including the Society of St James and Social Enterprise Link Wessex.

It is imagined that this project, provides space for rooms for hire for community events and health and well-being activities, a social enterprise hub as well as supported housing for the homeless. The local community, pledged funds to make this project possible. This is a remarkable opportunity to be a part of a new kind of High Street, one where people are defining what’s needed.

October Books sketch interior


The existing bank fronts the high street in Porstwood Southampton and the key proposal was to convert the ground floor to the new book shop and community space. The first and second floors are residential units for the homeless charity ‘The Society of St James’ . The feasibility study was commissioned to review and look at creating opportunities within the existing redundant bank structure. In addition for the two key users to enable these two key important Southampton based community groups, so that the would have a future in the high street for the 21 century.

October Books Portswood Road, Southampton


The design strategy has been to create a very simple forensic and sympathetic review of the existing former bank building. The street elevation at ground level has some key Neo Classical features that give opportunities for this to be cleaned to give a simple face to the high street.

The proposals for the main front entrance was to enhance and respect the existing features, by adding new windows, to draw daylight deep into the new book shop. Internally within the book shop the proposed strategy, is to create a welcoming environment, texture will be introduced using some simple key timber element’s, that will accommodate the book collection.

This will also give some opportunities’ for people to stop, pause, take a breath from the every day and rest within a birch faced plywood book wall, where they will be able to sit and read, within the cocoon of words surrounding you! We also reused the existing concrete and steel bank vault, which now acts as the book shop stock collection and the existing cash machine steel vault is now encapsulated within the shop counter ply wood structure.

October Books Southampton sketch interior

One of the key moves for the rear of the ground floor, has been to look at creating a street, that stitches together the various activities that will take place. Our proposal is to develop a community street, that would thread through the center of the ground floor, from north to south. This street, will be developed by creating some fixed but flexible structures and spaces that can interact with this central spine.

The new additions to the Community Hub place great importance on the quality of space and light within the new spaces, allowing for much greater open plan space and natural daylight to flood deep into the plan of the existing building. The proposal also seeks to open up existing parts of the plan, with an opportunity to view right through the floor plan to the new rear access.

The concept has been conceived around social interaction, so that everyone within the community, regardless of the activities: reading, writing, talking, working, creating, interacting, resting, can feel part of the community spirit within the welcoming space’s of the street.

The book shop opened in Nov 2018, with a human chain organized to moves thousands of books from the old to new shop along the high street on a Sunday morning with 200 people, the story went viral in national and international media, featuring in both the Guardian and New York Times.

October Books Portswood Road, Southampton interior


Human chain forms for Southampton bookshop move

Southampton bookshop enlists human chain to move to new store




PRACTICE : S T U D I O : B .a. d


TIME SCALE: Jan 2018 – May 2019

BUDGET: £150,000


October Books Portswood Road, Southampton images / information received June 2019 from STUDIO – B.a.d

Address: 189 Portswood Rd, Southampton SO17 2NF, UK
Phone: +44 23 8058 1030

Location: Southampton, Hampshire, England, UK

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