In October I helped take apart the Jellyfish Theatre. It was an amazing “junkitecture” project in Southwark, South London.
That means that it was London’s first full theatre (120-seats) built entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials – including lots of pallets including from Covent Garden market, discarded theatre sets, MDF fibre board and scrap wood. Our job (for which I was rewarded with a free bike by Druid Cycles) in the last warm and sunny days of October 2010 was to take all the pieces off, remove the screws and pile them onto pallets as a stream of people came to take them away.
Power screwdrivers were the weapon of choice and days on top of a ladder with the sheets of wood and MDF crashing down as you unwound the black screws were a great experience. So too was the friendly and encouraging company, especially project manager Ben Melchiors from the Red Room and his team, including Robin Turner, Maja Mysliborska and Elsa Galvez and the architecture students, Russian craftsmen, American volunteer drama poeple, artists and many others who were excellent company. Catering by Thor and his team from Druid was good too.
The project was thought-provoking and commendable, done by architects experienced in builidng from recycled, Berlin-based architects Martin Kaltwasser and wife and business partner Folke Kobberling. The project was put together by an excellent team from theatre producers The Red Room, as part of the London Festival of Architecture. It was designed to be energy efficient and would have looked amazing using large water bottles to create a translucent skin, but fire regulations saw that quite a lot of the design got altered eventually. They collected the stuff from some places all over London and figured out the design as they went, opening the theatre in August and staging two shows by playwrights Kay Adshead and Simon Wu which examined ways our society may adapt for survival in two urgent and inspiring plays written specially to be performed in this unique venue. It was called the Oikos project from the ancient Greek for “house” and the root of “economy” and “ecology”. It aimed to be “a unique mix of public-made art, architecture and performance that explores how a new sustainable society can flourish in a world altered by climate change” and was built by volunteers as well as the hard-working team.
It was a privilege to be part of it and we learnt a lot about how much volunteers and junk can achieve in the heart of the community – and what an inspiring and fun activity volunteering can be. Thanks for the bike, Thor.