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Newham recycling pop-up packs up shop

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Newham’s Industri[us] meanwhile use has failed to reopen to the public after closing in August due to lower than expected footfall

The competition-winning recycling showcase has shut for good after being forced to abandon a series of community events planned for September.

The Canning Town scheme first closed in early August after a request for emergency funding was turned down by local authority Newham Council.

Organisers Fluid had expected 10,000 passers-by during the six-week Olympic and Paralympic festival but actual number of visitors and passers-by was much lower because mass transport systems ran too efficiently.

Fluid director Christine Norton said: ‘Because of the shortfall of footfall we have been unable to do the community events we planned. The income we could have generated from the six week period which we were unable to generate would have allowed us to resource the projects.’

Planned events included an ‘intensive week’ of school projects, a car boot sale and a sustainability event with lighting sponsor Philips. Industri[us] expected to rake in between £50,000 and £100,000 to pay for the programme and the site was always planned to close at the end of September.

Norton added: ‘The official projection was 100,000 ticket holders at the Excel conference centre with five to 10 per cent expected to get out at Canning Town.

‘Transport for London were incredibly successful at managing crowds. We were an official sponge site and were supposed to hold people while they waited to enter the venue. When that didn’t materialise because people were going straight to Excel, there was no shortfall and it was absolutely sad.’

She added: ‘One’s success was another’s demise.’ No legal action is being considered by the organisers.

Delivered by Fluid and Buro Happold, the installation’s main structure and scaffolding is now being taken down. A large robot sculpture commissioned by the organisers could find a future home as a public art installation on the site which hands over to Bouygues in March next year.

The nearby London Pleasure Gardens meanwhile use – which was also a winner of the high-profile Meanwhile London design competition – went into administration in August after failing to complete in time for a planned music event. Another winning scheme, Caravanserai, cut its opening hours.

Norton said lessons learned from Industri[us] would be presented to an Architecture Foundation-led survey of meanwhile uses for the  London Legacy Development Corporation.

Architecture students at Montana State University and Oxford Brookes University created a Ping Pong Pavilion on the east London site.

Oxford Brookes University senior lecturerHarriet Harriss said: ‘By any standards the Industrius project was a huge success. All the students involved in designing and building the structures gained crucial expertise in what running a construction project really involves.

She added: ‘That there were problems during the installation due to the ground conditions, on-going maintenance issues, and finally challenges regarding the longevity of the installation only reflects the reality of practice.

‘Live projects such as these provide excellent learning opportunities for students who often spend most of their “practice based experience” working long hours as CAD monkeys on unpaid internships. If we want the next generation of architects to lead us to a brighter more sustainable future as a profession, we need to make more of a collective effort to enable them to gain the skills needed to do so.’

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