Canning Town Caravanserai

Before the London 2012 Olympic Games, Newham’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, and mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched a competition to find ‘meanwhile’ uses for three prominent brownfield sites in the Royal Docks and Canning Town.

The competition was an opportunity for developers, investors, designers, artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, community groups to devise temporary uses for prominent sites in the former Royal Docks.

Ash Sakula’s winning competition entry, the Canning Town Caravanserai, was on a site opposite Canning Town station in one of the most ethnically diverse and also one of the most deprived wards in Britain. Our five year welcoming and low budget project became a welcoming oasis and a living manifesto for a new generation of urban public space, integrating forums and facilities, workshops and workspaces, all collaboratively produced by hosts and guests.

It centred on a vibrant, adaptable, open courtyard, surrounded on all sides by market stalls and bustling production spaces where innovative and sustainable business ventures were invented or re-imagined.

The competition was entered with our partners EXYZT, Space Makers, Community Links, The Kindest Group, Technology Will Save Us, Wayward Plant Registry, Atmos and David Barrie Associates.