Last Tuesday brought urban farmers, students and curious individuals down to the Caravanserai. The sun was shining for us, while we exchanged ideas, a few beers and some delicious homemade pesto, courtesy of Candy Buckler (thanks Candy!)
Andy Willis from Frontside – @frontsideltd // Chris from Core Landscapes,Growing Place E16 // Candy Buckler from Play, Sow and Grow // Unit Four at the London Metropolitan University’s School of Architecture presenting Heliomet @sunbloc2012 // Aggrie Chikwa from Anchor House @anchor_house
Andy started off the afternoon’s talks with his vision for a skate boarding half-pipe and a play area for all ages at the Caravanserai. A skate-master and engineer by training, he built and runs his local skate park in his St. Alban’s community, with mums and youths. He and local Canning Town youth will build the half-pipe together, and he hopes this will instill a sense of ownership that will ultimately ensure that it is looked after.
Mental health worker, carpenter and gardener extraordinaire, Chris, expressed the urge to use empty and unused sites to grow food. The temporary nature of the Growing Place E16 has required the community to develop transportable and light-weight planters. Chris and Candy made us jealous talking about the joys of growing natural produce and eating it straight away – it doesn’t get any fresher! Said Chris, and Candy’s pesto proved it. Play, Sow and Grow’s Candy hopes to clear the mystification around growing, saving chicks and inserting ‘play’ back into our agendas in the process.
London Met students presented their sustainable prototype house, Heliomet. An entry to the European “Solar Decathlon” competition, their short-listed scheme was the only entry from the UK. The design is a prefabricated house made from EPS (a high density foam), with a modular system that allows the house to be deconstructed and put back together in redundant spaces around the city. It incorporates a sloped south-facing roof with integrated solar paneling, to harness solar-power for the two-person dwelling plus enough to sell back to the grid. Heliomet will be re-assembled in Madrid in September after a probable first assembly at the Caravanserai. Keep an eye out!
‘Two homeless people we have worked with, have been taken out of a situation of homelessness through gaining confidence with community projects like the Caravanserai’ – Aggrie, in charge of Employment, Education and Training at Anchor House, a residential and life skills centre in East London for single homeless people. He expressed the importance of passing on basic, practical and academic skills that give homeless the confidence and tools to improve their lives. They really are part of the community at Growing Places E16 and Caravanserai, making changes to the area and growing personally. Big thanks to Lee and the crew for being a great asset in constructing the beginnings of the Caravanserai – we look forward to our continued collaborations!
We could say all the speakers believed in the sharing of skills and knowledge – we need to educate each other together to build healthy and prosperous individual and communal lives. So many of the basic skills of growing food, making and building our own shelters and spaces empower us, allow us to create and mould our lives and not to be mercy of others. Most importantly, it brings us together. We must pass on the tale and make sure these skills are not forgotten.