Wick Curiosity Shop


Wick Fish Garden Walk

WHEN: Sunday 19th of May 2013 2:00PM - 5:00PM
WHAT: Walk
WHERE: Biggs Square Central Court Yard, Felstead Street, London, E9 5DT

Join us on a walk through Hackney Wick and Fish Islands' gardens. We will be visiting some of the many green spots in the area - from kitchen gardens to ambitious community projects and social enterprises. We will be joined by local gardeners and initiators behind the projects, each giving a short explanation about their specific garden.

The walk will set off at Biggs Square and will last for 2-3 hours,
RSVP necessary as places are limited.

Some of the places along the way: Biggs Square central courtyard garden, Leabank Square (Purple) Garden, Mabley Meadow, Mabley Green, Cre8 Arc, Wonder Yard Garden, Yard Theatre kitchen garden, Organic Wick and Vittoria Wharf garden, and others ...

The walk is the result of a conversation with Sarah Bancroft who, in collaboration with other residents, has been involved in setting up the Biggs Square garden project (see text below). The walk is a response to the desire to link up with other gardeners in the area.


The garden in the middle of Biggs Square, off Felstead Street in Hackney Wick, is an experiment. It is now in its third incarnation. As the visual focus of a square which is just four years old and the home to 250 people who were strangers to one another until they moved into its 122 flats and maisonettes, this is perhaps inevitable. A community, as much as a garden, has to be grown.

In the first two years, the original landscaping – a mixture of 18 containers large enough to contain small trees, edge borders and a 25ft x 30ft raised central bed – suffered neglect (a gardening contract had not been put in place) and vandalism. The central bed, particularly, under-planted with uninspiring shrubs, became a toilet for dogs and worry for parents whose children chased across it. After considerable discussion, Family Mosaic, the housing association behind the square, got Groundwork, an environmental regeneration charity, involved: in late spring 2011, the central bed was remade into 24 "Vacant Lot" allotments for interested residents to grow fruit and veg. Eight gardening sessions were run to kickstart the project.

The garden's second incarnation had a good first season – until the school holidays when a combination of the end of Groundwork's sessions and bored children resulted in damaged crops and disillusioned gardeners. Vacant Lot struggled through 2012 with a dwindling number of growers and further damage. It was clear that without more input – chiefly a fence of some kind and a led, regular gardening club – the project would be unsustainable.

This year, we have Biggs Square gardens Mk III. A fence has been built, the plots slightly remodelled and we have the beginnings of a gardening club. A number of us feel the garden can be an important part of generating a flourishing community – a place to grow things, green the square and make strong connections. We are watching our space!

Scouting with Super Use Oogskart, www.harvestmap.nl

Harvestmap.nl is a web-based, European-wide network of re-users sharing expertise, contacts and sources of materials, searchable via a visual map-based interface or a more traditional listing. The platform is currently in beta-version testing and is seeking users to participate and contribute.

R-urban Wick have been asked to participate in the testing by uploading information about re-use in London, to establish it as a 'node' on the system alongside the relatively well-populated network in the Netherlands. Whilst some things are best re-use locally - such as sources of material - some things are less geographically dependent (such as re-use tips and points of reference).

The site offers levels of membership that allow access to different kinds of content - membership at any level is free for the rest of this year, after which a small fee would be charge to upper membership levels to cover administration of the site.

R-urban has registered as a 'Scout' - the most active membership level - and have begun uploading our research material and local contacts. Scouts can also act as 'brokers', serving as a point of contact for their address books and known sources of re-usable material. We would like to use the site to make people aware that we can act in this role - primarily brokering how-to knowledge and disseminating the results of our experimentation, but also in connecting those that approach us in need of materials with those we know who have them. The site has a built in mechanism that allows you to easily give feedback on how it is operating, and any problems you encounter. Although it is primarily in Dutch, there are sections in English and Google Translate does the rest. Join us!

*** Harvestmap.nl has been developed by Netherlands-based Superuse Studios - formerly 2012 Architekten - and will be launched as part of an exhibition at the Architecture Foundation opening on 4th June entitled 'InsideFlows: The Superuse Approach to Design', open until the 31st July. ***

Call for Residency /// Eco-Design Eco-Architecture /// Recyclab R-Urban

This is a Call for young teams of architects, designers, artists, students or professionals of ecological building, who are interested in recycling and eco-design and who are keen to develop full scale prototypes within the framework of a civic project in a suburban town near Paris. They should be passionate makers and possibly also fans of… AAA’s work.

Please have a look into this Call for Residency (bellow), which is the first in a series that we initiate within the R-Urban project currently developed in Colombes (http://r-urban.net/).

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information. We are really excited about possible collaborations and look forward to receiving your expression of interest!

Download the pdf brief here

AAA team

PS. Please feel free to circulate the information within your networks

Accelerated Composter at Cody Docks

Wonderful to meet Simon who is one of the people behind the quietly transformative Gasworks Docks Partnership in West Ham. A charity set up to re-claim this disused dock in the industrial heartland at the river lea and bring it back into community use. Quietly tucked away in the industrial estate they are transforming this former industrial waste land into a little oasis of social enterprises.

Amongst a floating Geodesic dome, reed beds, boats on stills and mobile planters is a large accelerated composter which was inherited from Newham. Its not quite an anerobic digester which we assumed it might be but rather a hot chamber which churns out compost in only 12 days. Still quite impressive.

A Digester for the Wick

Tom and Fausto inspecting the digester

Fausto holding up the biogas lamp.

The fermented liquid is collected in a barrael and provides fertilizer for the garden

Throughout last year Fausto has been running this anareobic digester at the Urban bee lodge in Kennington Park. It has been dorment over the winter and we initally thought that it might be possible to bring it to the Wick as it seemed access to requierments in Kennington. The good news is that the Urban Bee Lodge has more volunteers to run and promote the digester in Kennington, which also means we can't bring it Hackney Wick. Inspired by what we saw in Kenningtons plans were hatched to build our own digester re-using existing components and making it fit local requierments.

The digester in Kennington was a demonstration model designed by Loo Watts. It was extremely useful to see how it works and what level of maintanance which is requiered.

Half a ton of wasted strawberries


Delighted that Tom Fletcher will be working with us. Tom is a chef and re-use expert. Among many other things he produces the Rejuce drinks made from left over fruit collected at New Spitafield Market a short distance away from Hackney Wick in Walthemstow. Tom is all things re-use and the last piece of the puzzle is a digester which can turn the remaining organic waste he produces into source a of energy.

Step forward Fausto who has been running a small digester made by LOOWATTS . Its only a small unit to demonstrate the benefits of producing gas (or electricity) with a digester currently without a user - it seems a perfect fit for Tom and his production line.

The space for the digester is identified and workshops are planned so watch this space.

You will not be marked

Tak who is working with us and Hassan asked me to introduce the project to his 20+ architecture students from the university of East London. I borrowed the Abbey Gardens cabin - Home of one of Charlie Seber's workshops and gave quick presentation hoping to draw them into a collaboration. "It will not be marked" were Taks words and it will be after they have completed their year - so I guess we only get those really committed and interested students to join in.