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In pictures: East London ‘pleasure gardens’ pop-up installations revealed

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RIBA London has revealed a string of commissions to help transform the Royal Docks into a contemporary pleasure gardens

The five projects – designed by emerging practices including Foster Lomas, Nickolas Kirk Architects and Studio Squat – are located on the 8 hectare Silvertown Quay development site.

Organized by RIBA London in partnership with engineers Price and Myers, the commissions are part of a two-year ‘London Pleasure Gardens’ vision to transform the area into a 35,000-capacity arts and entertainment attraction.

PLEASE NOTE: The London pleasure gardens preview event planned for 23 and 24 June has been cancelled due to inclement weather.

The waterfront plot is close to the ExCel Exhibition Centre which will host boxing, fencing, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling events during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The site is also home to the iconic, derelict Millennium Mills building.

The five London Pleasure Gardens installations:

  • An Oyster Bar by Visitor Studio
  • Hanging Gardens by Foster Lomas     
  • An Ornamental Pool by Fourks-Lyons/ Bisgaard/ Smith
  • Perspective Folly, by Nickolas Kirk Architects
  • Rainbow Folly, by Studio Squat

RIBA London Region director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘These imaginative structures add a stunning architectural element to the London Pleasure Gardens site.

‘Once a magical but derelict wasteland, the site has been transformed into an exciting entertainment venue. This shows what potential there is for other disused spaces around the capital through meanwhile uses.’

Price and Myers director Tim Lucas said: ‘The Royal Docks in East London has a huge heritage. We’re delighted to help the architects realise these impressive structures and give new life to the Royal Docks.’ 

The site will open to the public on 30 June. The London Pleasure Gardens concept was one of four winning proposals in the mayor’s Meanwhile London competition announced in March last year.

Earlier this year AHMM and Arup were been named as part of the victorious Chelsfield and First Base bid to redevelop Silvertown Quays.


Project descriptions: London Pleasure Gardens installations


Perspective Folly by Nicolas Kirk - www.nickykirk.co.uk

The concept is based on an augmented reality where visitors can enter into an environment that does not quite appear as it should. The architecture of the pavilion is manipulated to create an illusion whereby perspective views are distorted to generate an unexpected experience. The pavilion form is designed to encourage play and performance and coincide with the overarching themes of both the London Festival of Architecture (with the theme of ‘the Playful City’) and The London Pleasure Gardens which will host the pavilion during the summer of 2012.


Rainbow Folly by Studio Squat

Studio Squat is a small diverse collective of design graduates, students and professionals with one primary objective – to make space fun. The Rainbow Folly draws inspiration from our childhood imagination, using the sense of exploration and discovery as a major design driver. Surrounding five reclaimed telegraph poles is a forest of suspended webbing straps. This allows the structure to be easily penetrated and explored. From the outside it resembles the end of a rainbow as it touches the ground, but as you embark on your journey of discovery, not everything is what it seems…


The Pleasure Pools designed by Nick Lyons & Pernille Bisgaard & Ole Smith – www.nicklyonsarchitect.tumblr.com

Experience the magical journey of discovery that unfolds beneath your feet and embraces your imagination. Journey through the twisting turns and alert your senses as the ground gives way, conjuring sensations of floating on air and water. The pleasure gardens bloomed in the industrial era where new inventive structures were praised and the exploration of materials had a profound effect on the built environment. This was the inspiration for ‘The Pleasure Pools’. This is the poetic outcome of a pragmatic process aspiring to create a sustainable, temporary, cost-effective structure, with emphasis on the recycling of all materials used. The unique swirling structure reveals two event spaces of contrasting character, each inviting the visitor to yet unknown pleasurable events. The path to pleasure is, in this case, a twisting, curving path leading the curious in and out of the multi-functional spaces with elegance and excitement.

The unusual use of Euro pallets presented the possibility of sculpting an inviting and inspiring building which attracts the crowds, incites cheerfulness and socialising, very much in the spirit of the old pleasure gardens.


Hanging Gardens and installation designed by Foster Lomas and Artist Kristy Gosling - www.fosterlomas.com

Upon entering the site you are confronted by a charming light installation, which is a collaborative piece by London architects Foster Lomas and local artist Kristy Gosling. Lit with tiny individual LEDs, are a series of transparent globes hovering in mid-air creating what is in essence a hauntingly ethereal floating museum. Each globe contains a salvaged artefact of the sites industrial past creating the playfully titled ‘Cabinet of Contaminated Curiosities.’ The web-like placement of these globes leads the eye to a central area where one experiences what looks initially like a glowing portal to an underground world. Upon closer inspection however these portals are huge transparent hemispheres containing the sites untouched surface. Intricate porcelain pieces and glass fragments knitted together with lime green mosses and foliage lay perfectly preserved in these large domes like a dystopian vision of the sites industrial heritage. This piece beautifully echoes the nature of the site and is curiously entwined with the rich history of London’s East End.

Hanging Gardens by Foster Lomas

Hanging Gardens by Foster Lomas


Oyster grotto,designed by Visitor Studio - www.visitorstudio.co.uk

The Oyster bar is a bar and oyster restaurant within the landscaping of London Pleasure Gardens. The interior appears as if excavated and re-discovered amongst the foliage of the site. The space provokes associations with the opulence of a forgotten age which has faded over time becoming distorted and abstracted into its current condition. The Oyster bar will be a place for eating, drinking, performance and activity, the lines between these blurred by the nature of the space.

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