Wednesday, 16 May 2012

London Pleasure Gardens transforms docklands wasteland into arts and culture oasis

An ambitious project to convert a 20-acre stretch of east London wasteland into a 35,000 capacity arts and culture destination will be completed on 30 June.

The London Pleasure Gardens, located at Pontoon Dock, will feature a 27,000 capacity open-air space for live concerts, a 2,800 capacity sound proofed indoor space with late license, a floating cocktail lounge with a 24-hour licence, large-scale sculpture gardens and a dome building with an events capacity for 1,000.

Events already confirmed for the site include, UK electronic music festival Bloc, featuring Snoop Dogg and Orbital on 6 and 7 July, plus the Africa stage for BT’s River of Music, taking place over the weekend before the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Part of the London 2012 Festival, the BT River of Music will feature performances by musicians representing all the Olympic and Paralympic nations.

Musicians from the world’s major continents will be represented across six stages: Battersea Park (Asia stage); Trafalgar Square (Europe stage); Somerset House (Europe stage); Tower of London (Americas stage); Greenwich Old Royal Naval College (Oceania stage) and London Pleasure Gardens (Africa stage).

During the Olympic Games, the London Pleasure Gardens will provide a waterfront location for live art, film screenings, promenade performances and community projects.

On 30 July, a pyrotechnic show will animate the concrete architecture that surrounds the site.

The show will be inspired by a traumatic event that happened on the site in 1917, when a TNT factory exploded, tragically killing 73 people and filling the sky with burning grain. The performance will fuse music, pyrotechnics, projection and theatre.

Between the 17th and 19th Centuries in Britain, Pleasure Gardens were communal spaces where people from all walks of life, converged to listen to music, admire paintings, stroll, drink and immerse themselves in the culture that made their city great.

The most famous Pleasure Gardens were in Vauxhall. Mozart played there aged nine and Charles Dickens wrote about them. Between 1851 and 1884, the Royal Docks had its very own Pleasure Gardens, named The Royal Victoria Gardens.

The modern day scheme is supported by Newham Council, the Mayor of London and the London Development Agency to kick-start regeneration initiatives planned for the Royal Docks in the London borough of Newham.

As winners of a Mayoral competition to find ‘Meanwhile’ uses for prominent brownfield sites in the Olympic borough, the team behind the Pleasure Gardens will stage events, concerts and cultural collaborations on the site until 2014.

The London Pleasure Gardens team includes Debs Armstrong, who is the Creative Director and Co-producer of the Shangri-La area at Glastonbury Festival, and was also the co-Founder and Producer of The Lost Vagueness area which preceded it, as well as the designer of bespoke events and live music tours by bands such as Groove Armada, and Ed Harcourt.

Also involved are Robin Collings who organised Stoke Newington Festival and Bassline Circus at Glastonbury, and Garfield Hackett who produced Mutate Britain, and Cordy House.