Shoreditch may not have a tube station any more but it still has tube trains. Well... two tube carriages, to be accurate. As with anything in Shoreditch that stands still for more than two minutes, the two tube carriages we mentioned have been taken over by artistic / media types and now sit above Great Eastern Street like gritty urban guardian angels, keeping a watchful, graffiti-covered eye over the designer / media types going about their Nathan Barley-esque lives below.
This public tranport / creative space crossover, described by icon magazine as an "urban intervention" is the result of furniture designer and "social entrepeneur" Tom Foxcroft trying to find affordable space for small start-up creative businesses, that would make use of existing spaces and materials to keep costs down and reduce waste. Foxcroft bought two tube carriages that were going to be thrown out as scrap by London Underground and had them stuck them on a viaduct over Shoreditch in August this year.
It was apparently extremely cheap to buy the carriages but unbelievably expensive to put them in place. Still, its a curious sight to see these tube carriages zipping along the London streets on a back of a lorry, looking as if grumpy commuters would pour forth from the sliding doors and make their way to phantom escalators whenever they stop at a red light...
Refurbishment, plumbing, re-wiring and whatever else it takes to change an old tube carriage into a working studio space been set to finish at the end of this year. The offices of Foxcroft's cultural and creative enterprise Village Underground sits directly beneath the tube carriages and these will be connected by stairs; small start-up creative businesses will have the chance to use the studio space for their work once everything is up and running.
All the seats have been pulled out of the carriages in order to create the prerequisite open plan studio space but the pneumatic sliding doors will be reinstated to keep the spirit of the tube alive - and to make the act of stepping out for a sandwich at lunchtime that little bit more exciting. Considering how high the tube carriages sit above Great Eastern Street, the studio users really must mind the gap when departing their train.