We were approached by Blackhorse Workshop to collaborate on a proposal for a meanwhile-use of a site directly opposite Blackhorse Road Station, made possible by developers U+I. The brief was for a large-scale installation that would allow visitors a peek behind the scenes at Blackhorse Lane’s most diverse maker space.
Our proposal is a combination of Santa’s workshop and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: an industrially-themed marketplace that allows the community to experience the Blackhorse makers, the processes they use and the objects they produce. Tactile and participatory, the space aims to engage its visitors in craft and making, to experience the fun and creativity that form the ethos of the Blackhorse Workshop project.
The design of Sideshow takes its cue from theatre set design. A series of ‘theatre flats’ reminiscent of the industrial skyline of Walthamstow create a backdrop for a modular stage upon which to display products, run educational workshops and hold events. At the rear of the site, a disused mobile building has been converted into a café run by artisan coffee maker ‘Woodstreet Coffee’.
A large-scale marble run, designed by artist and make Toby Poolman, weaves through the structure, referencing the industrial sounds of a busy workshop. The marble run, operated by visitors, is also a metaphor for London’s busy transport network, and the heritage of the site as a factory where the city’s first motorised buses were built. By integrating bus components into its structure, industries of the past and present are combined in a large-scale toy. Visitors operate a hand-turned Archimedes screw, levers and wheels to alter the movement of the bearings and their sound as they rush down the pipes and chutes, providing the site with a unique soundtrack.
As a temporary installation, the building touched the ground lightly. We worked with structural engineers Graphic Structures to design a framed structure that was weighed down by paving slabs rather than invasive foundations. Once the show was over, the installation disappeared without trace, its component parts dismantled and re-used.
See the marble run in action in this short film by Toby Poolman.
'Working with ehk! (now Citizen Architects) on the Blackhorse Sideshow project was a fantastic experience. The project was very ambitious in scope and budget, and yet they were undeterred by this, delivering a fantastic and functional design, and supporting us thoroughly through every step of the build process. They went above and beyond what was asked of them and were always professional, and happy to offer advice or recommend solutions to issues that came up. We would be very happy to work with them on another project in the future and thoroughly recommend them as a practice.'
- Harriet Warden, Creative Director Blackhorse Workshop
Project carried out under the name engelhadleykirk limited (ehk!)