Observations: Transforming a derelict area into cutting-edge venue


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With a background in raves, free parties and the squat scene, it is a vote of confidence to get a £3.3m commercial loan, rather than a grant, from Newham Council to complete a project.

But this is what Deborah Armstrong – who was the creative force behind the Lost Vagueness and Shangri-La areas at Glastonbury – and her team have pulled off for the London Pleasure Gardens.

This new 60,000sqm, 35,000-capacity site in Newham, east London, is on the dockside in the heart of a derelict industrial area. Tonight it is hosting its second event, Bloc Weekend, with guests Orbital. But come the Olympics, the nearby site –which will eventually have two permanent stages, sculpture gardens, an art and design trial, a floating cocktail bar and a pop-up hotel – will be transformed into an “off the wall paradise”. It will be filled with cutting-edge art, sideshows, cabaret and music.

The cult graphic artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic Barack Obama poster, has painted a 50-metre-high mural on the Millennium Mills building, which overlooks the site, giving “unsuspecting Olympic enthusiasts” something to “stumble across”, Fairey says.

(www.londonpleasure gardens.com)