Caravanserai - development of a wasteland near Londons Olympic site
London's new trading post
A new trading post is taking shape within site of the Olympics. Can they bring the community with them?
Canning Town is a neglected part of London, stuck between the Royal Docks and the swampy Lea Valley. It has high unemployment and high levels of poverty.
But things are looking up. It’s close to the Olympic site and a major development has been announced on its doorstep. It will also be the end point for a huge new Cable Car from the tourist-heavy 02 Arena, a massive concert venue.
A new project aims to turn some wasteland into a new community space, using the momentum from the Olympics to bring some action to Canning Town.
The proposal was developed through the Meanwhile London Competition which aimed to let people fill spaces that were otherwise unused.
It aims to have a café-bar, food stalls, an art workshop and a skills programme. Alas, since its inception it seems to have lost its crazy golf course.
The site is on the Olympic Walking Route with an estimated 20,000 people a day will be passing the site during the games. It’s close to Canning Town Station, which has 100,000 passing through. And it’s hard to imagine that it won’t attract a decent proportion of these.
The big challenge for the Caravanserai is bringing the community with it. This has always been an aim for them - the project is due to “be hosted by locals”. But how will they get them involved?
The trading post name does make it sound as though many of the participants have never been here before. This is not some remote outpost, far away from civilisation. This is two miles away from central London and a stone’s throw from the Olympic site.
And the Olympics are the big problem. You might have thousands walking by, but might this deter locals from getting involved? So Caravanserai have made big attempts to bring in locals - talking to businesses, care homes, the council, schools and more.
No one will bet against Caravanserai becoming a huge success. But that success doesn’t depend on the organisers, it depends on the community.
Banner image twenty_questions creative commons on flickr
Caravanserai image, credit Sorwar Ahmed.