Key Facts:

Project summary: Project involving the upcycling of goods on a disused site in Canning Town. Winner of the Meanwhile London Competition

Location: Canning Town, London, UK

Programme: Training programmes, upcycling market, exhibition space, events and workshops.

Initiator: Fluid in collaboration with Dare, branding and marketing; Buro Happold, engineers; social venture advisor David Barrie, green economy expert John Thackara, and artist Michael Pinsky

Project Duration: March 2011 – 6 August 2012

Site Area: 0.55 hectares

Client Team: Self-initiated project with London Borough of Newham and London Development Agency (now Greater London Authority) as advisory board

Funding Sources: Site given for free for 16 months; large amount of in-kind support; rest self funded by Fluid.


Permissions / Permits:

  • Licence for use of site from LB Newham
  • Full planning permission for ‘Canning Town Giant’ sculpture
  • Full planning permission for construction works on whole site
  • Compliance with Building Regulations (certified)
  • Temporary Event Licences (covering sale of goods, food and alcohol and live music)

Local Links:
Project developed and realised in collaboration with Anchor House (life skills centre for homeless people), Caramel Rock (youth fashion and outreach programme), Peacock Academy (youth enterprise programme), Rosetta Arts (arts and outreach programme), Sustainability Research Institute at University of East London, Markets Manager and other LB Newham officers, Newham Wombles (local waste recycling initiative) Waste materials have come from a variety of local sources, as well as other sources within London.

Publicity/advertising: Website, e-shots, word of mouth, local flyers for events and social media

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The initial proposal was awarded a site in the Royals Business Park but was later given a site opposite Canning Town Underground Station when another project pulled out. The site is owned by LB Newham and was loaned free of rent for a period of up to 16 months. The site is 5,500 square metres, and though hoarded, required security in the final stages of construction and once open to the public. No funding or monetary support was offered by the instigators of the Meanwhile London competition. Located on an Olympic Walking Route, high footfall past the site was predicted during the 6 weeks of the London 2012 Olympic Games. However, as for many Olympic related ventures, the predicted footfall did not materialise once the project was up and running, resulting in a loss of trade, traders and revenue from market stall rent.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The Festival of Upcycling was aimed at engaging the local community and visitors. A broad audience was sought from those with an interest in re-use and design, and those who wished to buy their lunch from the street food market. A number of gig nights were staged which attracted large audiences to the site from the local area and further afield. Unfortunately, attending people did not buy gifts from the market but were happy to enjoy the music and the food.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Confirmation on the site location was given at quite a late stage in the process and made realising the project a real challenge, particularly fundraising, publicity and onsite delivery. Though the site was loaned free of charge, the 2012 Games placed some significant constraints on the project. Licences required that additional security be employed, specifically CCTV and night-time surveillance. Its location opposite Canning Town Station did not attract the footfall and number of visitors that had been promised by the ODA. The lack of start-up funding meant that Fluid had to cover many upfront costs of the project. In addition, working with contractors on an in-kind basis meant that schedules and timescales were hard to enforce.

What next?
Fluid remain committed and interested in developing the Industri[us] concept further. Industri[us], a registered company limited by guarantee, is still active and is able to trade and operate should they wish to embark on further projects in the future. The site is being dismantled and materials are being relocated and reused. The large robot built on site is still looking for a new home.

Complementary Programmes:
Street-food market, gig nights, market of up-cycling, ping pong

Project Website / Further Info:;