ehk! were approached by Blackhorse Workshop to collaborate with them 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 leading maker space: Blackhorse Workshop.
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 mobile building that started life as a ‘games hub’ travelling around festivals has been converted into a café run by artisan coffee maker ‘Woodstreet Coffee’.
A large-scale marble run 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 originally built. By integrating bus components into its structure, industries of the past and present are combined in a kind of makers’ playground. 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 touches the ground lightly. We worked with structural engineers Graphic Structures to design a framed structure that would be weighed down by paving slabs (which will be ready for re-use after Sideshow is dismantled), rather than invasive foundations. Once the show is over, the installation will disappear without a trace.