Canning Town Caravanserai

Key Facts:

Project summary:
It is a new public square enclosed by units used by local community groups, artists and traders; food stalls and cafés. It was built with young people through apprenticeships and included a program of gardening, performances, workshops and skills exchanges.

Location: Silvertown Way, Canning Town, Newham, London, E16 1EA, UK

Programme: Learning school, retail street, cafe, daytime workshops, community garden, children’s play space and exhibition space

Initiator: Newham Council

Project Duration: 2011 – 2017

Lead in Time: 1 year

Site Area: 5060m2

Client Team: Newham Council,

Project Team: Ash Sakula architects & Canning Town Caravanserai ltd

Funding Sources: Newham Council £250, London Community Foundation, Development Trust Authority, British Council Youth in Action Trust, L&Q Foundation Neighbourhood Investment Fund, Newham Go For It Grants, etc.

Funding Type: Grants, capital and volunteer funding

Project Costs (Build):

  • Labour (volunteers) £ N/A
  • Construction Materials: £6,500
  • Permissions & Services: £1,250
  • Fine for billboard: £80
  • Licensing fees: £89
  • Materials Invested £6,500 (portacabins etc.)

Project Costs (Operation): Total: £6,000

Profitability/Loss: N/A

Permissions / Permits: LB Newham

Local Links: Anchor House, Community Links, East London Small Businesses, Newham Visual Artists Network, Core Arts, Arch1, Shipman Youth Centre, The Good Gym, St Lukes, Ground Work, University of East London, London Trade School, etc

Publicity/advertising: Local press, social media, local flyering and door to door conversations, event partner’s publicity

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The site is owned by Newham Council. It sits along side the historic Silk Road, Canning Town. Silk Road runs parallel to Silvertown Way, connecting the existing temporary allotments, the Caravanserai and the Children’s City to the south.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The Caravanserai is a new public space: a tactical start in creating a physical place. Shared experiences through making things together and through exchanges between people from different backgrounds and disciplines.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
No power, water or foul drainage on site to tap into at the start of the project. With a lack of funding available prior to the start of the project the project development on the site started slowly. The facilities and events began to bring in a regular crowd by Dec 2012.

Feedback from users / staff: Blog:

What next?
£10,000 from the National Lottery. The site still does not have mains electricity, a toilet, or a dedicated coordinator. The project team is also improving its business support offer and event frequency; recruiting traders, artists and facilitators; establishing mechanisms for democratic community-led delivery and oversight; and working towards a self-sustaining income.

Project Website / Further Info: