A Plug-In City Rises in London at the Trampery on the Gantry

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"Exuberant low cost studios for creatives and artists" are plugged into a giant structure in this revolutionary project.

Ever since I was in architecture school I have been preoccupied with the idea of the plug-in city as presented by Archigram in the '60s. And now it is a reality, a conversion of a giant structure built for the 2012 Olympics, which has been turned into a "cabinet of curiosities" housing studios using WikiHouse technology. According to the Trampery on the Gantry site:

The Trampery on the Gantry is a joyous experiment in utilising open space to provide low-cost studios for local creative businesses. In collaboration with Here East and architects Hawkins\Brown, the massive steel structure at the back of the Broadcast Centre from the 2012 Olympics has been repurposed to create 21 freestanding studios with 10,000 square feet of space.

We have covered the WikiHouse technology before; they call it "the next revolution in the way we build houses." The houses are built out of plywood that is cut on a CNC router and hammered together with mallets into columns, beams and panels. It has been developed and refined by Architecture 00.

The trampery

© The Trampery

It is being developed by architects, designers, engineers, inventors, manufacturers and builders, collaborating to develop the best, simplest, most sustainable, high-performance building technologies, which anyone can use and improve. Our aim is for these technologies to become new industry standards; the bricks and mortar of the digital age.

It is the perfect building type philosophically for a project like this, where The Trampery, "an innovation ecosystem of remarkable co-working spaces for entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives," will provide affordable studios.

Unit in bay on Gantry

© PYPR/ unit in Gantry

Drawing on the rich artistic heritage of Hackney Wick, The Gantry is made up of 21 individual artist studios which will sit across two levels. Each studio tells a story with cladding inspired by everything from Lesney Matchbox Toys to Fridge Mountain.

These spaces are all studios and are not for living, but conceptually it is not a stretch to imagine this model working for housing.

The Gantry at Here East is the first build of its kind at this scale, using open source WikiHouse technology twinned with parametric coding tools, the implications on the construction industry are massive.
Ready Player One

Ready Player One/Video screen capture

Indeed they are. And this could be the future. Imagine high-rise buildings with an entirely different economic model, more like a vertical trailer park where you pay rent for your slot or your plot in the sky, and you plug in your wikihouse or trailer or whatever. When you need to move, you just unplug and take it with you. If you need to expand your home, you just do it on your lot like you would if you were a homeowner.

Caterina Scholten's Trailer Park

© Catherina Scholten

There is obviously interest in this; when this image, a stage set for a Chekhov play designed by Catherina Scholten, hit the internet, it was "racing through the blogosphere faster than head lice through a kindergarten." I noted, "Stage set or not, it represents a different approach to housing and density, creating platforms in the sky where people can build what they think is appropriate."


A. B. Walker/Public Domain

It is not a new idea either, with this proposal going back to 1909. It's so wonderful to see it actually happen in London right now. More at The Gantry