A new folly in London popped up, literally, in London, this summer, under a freeway flyover. Originally planned to last for six weeks from June 2011, Folly for a Flyover under a busy freeway junction in North London, turned out to be so popular that its life was extended to the end of August and it won the Bank of America Merrill-Lynch 2011 Create Art Award.
And here it is.
Folly for a Flyover was built in under four weeks, at a cost of £20,000. The location was pretty unprepossessing - under two concrete road bridges, carrying the eastbound and westbound A12 traffic in London over the Hackney Cut. This is a man-made addition to the River Lea which flows nearby. The location is in Hackney Wick, east London, a dreary urban wasterland on the northern fringe of the 2012 Olympic site. It was designed as a temporary structure, a “pop-up” folly with a life expectancy of six weeks as a venue for films, concerts, boat rides and cheap coffee.
The folly was conceived by the same group of architecture students and others, now calling themselves Assemble, who created last year’s Cineroleum, a cinema temporarily made out of a disused petrol station.
The structure consisted of a sloping bank of seats for watching films and events, which then turned to form a café in the shape of a house. The house resembled something out of a child’s drawing or a fairytale, standing improbably in the forgotten concrete world beneath the flyover. The structure was scaffolding holding up some wobbly-looking bricks, which turn out to be made of reclaimed timber – oak, pine, yellowish opepe and reddish jarrah from railway sleepers. Each of the 10,000 bricks has been sawn from longer lengths by volunteers, and drilled with holes so they could be strung together by wires. The wall was in fact not masonry, but woven, and its elements can be reused.
One critic commented admiringly: “ The place is powerful, under the roads, with Piranesian columns, the water of the Hackney Cut and a slot of clear air, like an elongated oculus, between the two Roman-scaled bridges. Usually, it is also desolate and possibly scary, but by putting stuff and events there with a certain wit and spirit, Assemble have revealed its weird beauty. By having daytime events, boat rides and a cheap café, the Folly is also reaching a wider catchment than the largely twentysomething crowd who patronised Cineroleum.”
Here is a link to its website: http://www.follyforaflyover where you can find more images and what they got up to there.