Having stood empty for almost two years, many may have passed 16-17 Turl Street without noticing its presence. However, the five-storey Georgian building is empty no more and is soon to open its doors in a scheme that reaches far beyond its physical range.
In May 2010 the Oxford Hub signed a new lease on the building, located at the junction between Ship Street and Turl Street. Formerly the exclusive Corner Club, formerly the exclusive QI Club, the Oxford Hub has taken over and is set to unveil its new, inclusive social enterprise on the 22nd of September.
The Hub was set up by Oxford students in 2007 to support numerous projects within the local community. It now helps over twenty-five student-run initiatives including Jacari, Schools Plus and Food Justice. As well as providing offices for some of these projects and a base for students to meet, the building will house the Turl Street Kitchen. A café and restaurant by day and a bar by night, the Kitchen will undoubtedly meet the needs of most eating and drinking requirements. However, what is different about the TSK is that it is part of a social enterprise with profits going back into the Hub to help facilitate positive action within the community.
Food and drink at the Turl Street Kitchen will be locally sourced with a menu changing according to what products are in season. In addition, recycled and eco-friendly products are to be used and much of the furniture has been hunted down from antique fairs or other second hand outlets. An example is this is the multi coloured carpet on the second floor made from donated off cuts.
On the second floor there will also be a free ethical library, a lounge, terrace and meeting rooms available for numerous events. Hannah Martin, currently overseeing the project, said ‘obviously we want students to engage in positive social action but the building is set up to be highly inclusive. Whether you just want to eat, chill, do some work in our library or participate more actively, it can all be done here’
When told about the plans, Alison Raymond a third year Chemistry student at St. Peter’s responded, ‘there are lots of restaurants and bars in Oxford but what I like about the Turl Street Kitchen is that it is going to be more than that. It is also about community and celebrating the positive action of students’. Where concentrations of students are often criticized, this should be a chance to display the results of students coming together as an aid to the community rather than as a hindrance.