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Bloomsbury’s ‘hidden gem’ is the centre of attention

Brutalist or Modernist, more and more the Brunswick Centre is becoming a hub for the community. Helen Chapman reports

22 February, 2019 — By by Helen Chapman

Tucked away in the heart of Bloomsbury is a “hidden-gem” – a bustling centre of shops and housing.

The Brunswick Centre is making its name as a community hub since being taken over by Len Lazari in 2014, an entrepreneur known for his “keen eye for making a difference”.

Since last year the centre has played host to music events to attract newcomers to the area, with a Greek festival last summer and a Christmas light switch-on event.

John Themis, who works for the owners of the Brunswick as the events and marketing manager, said: “Lazari has a keen eye for making a difference. He wants to make this a great place to live while bringing new people in too. Where else is there in London where you can enjoy free food and music and entertainment? Nowhere – but here you can.

“It’s about the community. It’s an oasis – almost like a village in the centre of London.”

It was built in 1972 with its design said to be based on the work of Le Corbusier, particularly his designs of social housing in the South of France.

The centre is home to 408 flats, 90 of which are leaseholders and underwent a £8.5million refurbishment in 2006.

From left: John Themis, David Smith and David Plumb

David Smith, senior asset manager, added: “It is a focal point for Bloomsbury. There’s debate about whether the architecture is Brutalist or Modernist. That in itself brings people to the area.”

David Plumb, site manager, said: “It’s a wonderful hidden gem and is in the centre of the community.

“It’s in the heart of Bloomsbury and is surrounded by universities, hospitals and colleges. There are lots of working people here in the week.

“Footfall goes up every year. It has already gone up by 10 per cent this year.”

Next month, the centre is hosting a Bollywood-themed event open to all with Bhangra dancing and free curry. Go Bollywood at the Brunswick! takes place on March 30.

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