Cities grow and decline with economic cycles. Neighbourhoods survive or thrive with cultural vitality. Gentrification is often perceived as an evil force pushing the less fortunate further out. Then how can one marry improving and developing an area with keeping as much of its identity and community intact? The LimeWharf project is an attempt to make a gentle transition in keeping with the essence of a street, Vyner Street, that has been a powerful artistic laboratory in the past decade.
Technology companies and franchises are colonising East London and rents are forcing locals further east as higher net worth individuals move in picking the ripe fruits on the trees without always knowing how to take care of them. Tackling this trend which is gradually diminishing the diversity of the most creative district in Europe will not be easy. Instead of having a stack of offices and residential flats become the panacea of development it would be if a commercial operator would acquire the premises, the LimeWharf stands as an anchor tying the past and the future together. Keeping the notion of light industrial manufacturing workshops with crafts and local production, as well as the idea of mixed creatives and businesses that both make and show their work right there, is at the heart of a vision to bring the first dedicated state of the art multi-purpose independent cultural center to the area. Far from the megalithic institutions of the South Bank, the LimeWharf proposes a humble, highly experiential, and participatory version of culture – a mesh of art and technology sensitive to social and environmental concerns. From the program, to the scale, to the envelope of the building itself, all the LimeWharf stands for is a respectful local landmark embracing talent, both near and far. Half innovation centre, half community centre, we feel this is a new typology of development that East London can breathe life into and after 2 years of dreaming this together we are excited to share it.