July 13, 2011 / 1:49 PM / 6 years ago

London "folly" a project of art and fun

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The setting does not sound promising: the underbelly of a major highway bridge over a polluted canal which meanders through some of the most deprived areas of east London.

However, the collective of artists and designers who have built a rickety house here with railway sleepers cut into wooden bricks are already running a full program of cultural activities for locals, just steps from the nearly completed London 2012 Olympic site.

The impressive structure in its haunting location, known as the "Folly under the Flyover" (www.follyforaflyover.co.uk), was built entirely by volunteers for just 20,000 pounds ($32,060).

Its creators Assemble, a collective of artists and designers hope that it will spur local authorities, including the Olympic Development Authority to use the space for the local community on a more permanent basis.

“The site has a lot of potential for the local community in Hackney Wick, especially with the Olympics coming up,” Giles Smith, a member of the collective said.

“It’s not a place of obvious beauty or a place that people would typically choose to spend time, but it’s an incredible canal-side location, that makes use of a massive piece of infrastructure.”

Visitors are offered a wide range of activities and attractions.

Small rowing boats are available to hire, or you can go on a sound safari where you listen to a recording of evocative sounds on headphones as you are ferried in a large canoe.

Animation workshops, yoga classes, brass band and evening film screenings are also on offer.

The structure is due to be taken down at the end of August and the materials are set to be used for smaller, more permanent community projects, Smith said.

However funding has been granted by the London Development Authority to rig the site up to the electricity grid and put in place other infrastructure to make it a more permanent space that local people can use. ($1 = 0.624 British Pounds)

Reporting by Simon Falush

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