In the middle of the busiest part of Hammersmith, where the roads, tubes and river converge there is a length of empty space, which is not used. Thousands of people pass through it, over it, or by it but very few ever take the time to stop and look and appreciate the beauty of the space or the amenities it could provide. It is covered, dry, well lit and safe and could be used by many, old and young, resident and visitor for the benefit for the community as a whole.
In the 1720s Century Daniel Defoe wrote about the Hammersmith Broadway area – “In this village we see…a noble square (The Broadway) built as it were in the middle of several handsome streets as if the village seemed inclined to grow into a city. Here we are told they design to obtain the grant of a market and some talk of also building a stone bridge over the Thames….these things are yet in embryo though it is not unlikely that they may be accomplished in time…..”
Since then things have changed, there is now a bridge over the Thames, several thousand people live and work in Hammersmith, several multi-national companies including Disney, Coca Cola, LʼOreal and Universal Music have offices here, there is the world famous River Cafe, the Apollo Theatre attracting huge crowds on some nights, and the St Pauls church in the centre of the island. Hammersmith Broadway is a major transport hub with the bus station connecting west and central London, the tube station where three lines converge and a major road network node with traffic converging from the north, south and west and leading into London and the River Thames flowing close by.
Over the top of this confluence is the Hammersmith Flyover, and below it a length of empty space which is covered, dry, well lit and under-used. It is one of the first examples of an elevated road employing reinforced concrete balanced cantilever beam supports with a single central column. It is this stucture which struck us as both beautiful and useful. The initial idea of using the canopy cover from the road as a market space was reinforced by the grid pattern which is laid out by the structure of the cantilever beams. The deck spine and wings are of hollow pre-stressed concrete design .
There are several thousand people teeming around the space but hardly anyone using it. All of these people would appreciate somewhere to buy or sell, stop and talk, sit and watch. And those that do not have time to stop would enjoy the sights, smells and colour provided by the W6 PopDown market.
Our proposal is to provide a free market, a venue that is both colourful and useful, playing on the juxtaposition of the flyover and the under, using cars passing overhead and hanging underneath. The market stalls would be made up of recycled old cars and mobile steel boxes which would be adapted to provide colourful and practical market stalls. The cars would be stored between the cantilevered beams supporting the flyover and would be lowered and wheeled into position as required.
This market would be a place where anyone at anytime of day or night could set up a stall and sell their wares, they might be families selling home made brownies, pensioners selling knitted dolls to tourists, lunchtime food sellers feeding starving music executives and busking bands serenading passers by. It would also provide an opportunity for start up businesses dipping a toe in the water to test reaction to their ideas and so improve their business plan.
It is a market that is adaptable and could appeal to all sections of the community, those who get up early and those who go to bed late. The market would provide a meeting point for people, a focus for residents and an attraction for visitors. As a space it should be appeal to passers by, interesting to travellers, and could become an added attraction for visitors attending other events in Hammersmith, so encouraging people to spend longer in Hammersmith. It would provide more interest and activity in the middle of Hammersmith encouraging community spirit and appealing to both businesses and residents alike.
The market would provide market stalls on site which are mobile, secure, robust and practical as well as being attractive available for a peppercorn rent. For the stalls, we will be using recycled old cars, slung beneath the flyover, within the ribs like peas in a pod. They will be lifted and lowered into position using electricity generated by the river. They would be decorated by both the stall holders as well as local schoolchildren and students as a community art project. The cars can be replaced and updated as required. There will also be mobile steel boxes which can be wheeled into place from their hibernational location and will provide a comfortable vending station in which stock can be stored out of hours by those with ambition.
Much of the infrastructure is in place, the area is well lit, it is paved and already covered. The major construction work would be the lift system to raise and lower the cars from their storage position under the flyover between the beams to their selling position on the ground.
The market will be accessible to all, it is all at street level close to a major transport hub, has bicycle parking and is within minutes of the Thames Path.
Team Members: Dominic Warren, Heather Alston, Camilla Reid