Village Underground is becoming an international network of cultural spaces. We want to replicate a similar thing that we`ve done in London recently, it’s essentially a collection of affordable studio spaces for a mixed discipline community of creative/cultural people and practitioners, plus a large multifunctional space for cultural events and activities – we do live music and exhibitions, fashion, theatre and other performances etc, the whole creative mix really. In the London project we built the studios from old London Underground train carriages and a few modified shipping containers ( it has got a big eco design theme running through it), they are rented on a not for profit basis and we’ve got an interesting cross section of practices, film makers, music people, theatre company, artists, fashion designers, writers and poets, photographers, architects, graphics, jewellery maker and so on.
The two halves are linked together and feed from each other really well. What we want to do next is to set up a similar project in Berlin and link the two, ultimately we are looking at four or five European cities. The goal is to have an international community linked with virtual communications and physical bases. For example there will be spaces in each project for people to work and to stay, so people from one country can travel to another, use a studio and collaborate with local practitioners, either artistically or commercially. Similarly, shows and events can travel across borders and get exposure to international audiences, the whole cultural exchange thing is something that we are particularly keen on.
If you want to get involved and help out - please shout!
The London Rebuilding Society
Annual Report 2006-2007
Village Underground is an ambitious project to provide affordable workspace for creatives in Shoreditch and also to transform 4,000 sq. ft. of Victorian warehousing into a multi-functional art, music and cultural centre.
Recycled London Underground train carriages will be kitted out using sustainable materials, they will have carbon-neutral heat and power, the interiors will be eco designed, and there will also be a rooftop garden (the ‘village’ of Village Underground) with an outdoor cinema and space for live music during the summer.
The four LU carriages have already been raised by crane onto a viaduct high above the streets of Shoreditch. The old warehouse will boast hi-tech, in-house film and photographic facilities, and can also be used to host a variety of cultural events, including gigs, fashion shows, and film screenings. Shoreditch has one of the densest clusters of creatives in Europe and, as they will tell you, you have to be located where the work is and your location has to be affordable.
LRS’ loan of £38,000 to clear the site, and purchase and fit out the Underground carriages, was part of an overall capital investment of £87,000 (the other investors being Triodos Bank, One London and Fair Finance).
Shoreditch may not have a tube station any more but it still has tube trains. Well… two tube carriages, to be accurate. As with anything in Shoreditch that stands still for more than two minutes, the two tube carriages we mentioned have been taken over by artistic / media types and now sit above Great Eastern Street like gritty urban guardian angels, keeping a watchful, graffiti-covered eye over the designer / media types going about their Nathan Barley-esque lives below. This public tranport / creative space crossover, described by icon magazine as an “urban intervention” is the result of furniture designer and “social entrepeneur” Tom Foxcroft trying to find affordable space for small start-up creative businesses, that would make use of existing spaces and materials to keep costs down and reduce waste. Foxcroft bought two tube carriages that were going to be thrown out as scrap by London Underground and had them stuck them on a viaduct over Shoreditch in August this year. It was apparently extremely cheap to buy the carriages but unbelievably expensive to put them in place. Still, its a curious sight to see these tube carriages zipping along the London streets on a back of a lorry, looking as if grumpy commuters would pour forth from the sliding doors and make their way to phantom escalators whenever they stop at a red light…
Refurbishment, plumbing, re-wiring and whatever else it takes to change an old tube carriage into a working studio space been set to finish at the end of this year. The offices of Foxcroft’s cultural and creative enterprise Village Underground sits directly beneath the tube carriages and these will be connected by stairs; small start-up creative businesses will have the chance to use the studio space for their work once everything is up and running. All the seats have been pulled out of the carriages in order to create the prerequisite open plan studio space but the pneumatic sliding doors will be reinstated to keep the spirit of the tube alive - and to make the act of stepping out for a sandwich at lunchtime that little bit more exciting. Considering how high the tube carriages sit above Great Eastern Street, the studio users really must mind the gap when departing their train. 31st October 2006 By Hazel in News Londonist.com