Folly for a Flyover transformed a disused motorway undercroft in Hackney Wick into an arts venue and new public space. Over nine weeks, 40,000 local residents, artists and visitors from across London came and performed, ate, watched and got involved with workshops, talks, walks and theatre.
Starting with the idea that how spaces are imagined is often as important as their physical characteristics in determining their use, the Folly reclaimed the future of the site by re-imagining its past. The new ‘fairy tale’ for the site described the Folly as the home of a stubborn landlord who refused to move to make way for the motorway, which was subsequently built around him, leaving him with his pitched roof stuck between the East and Westbound lanes.
The Folly hosted an extensive programme of cinema, performance and play, curated by Assemble in collaboration with both city-wide institutions such as Create Festival and Barbican Arts Centre, and numerous local organisations and businesses. By day the Folly hosted a café, events and boat trips exploring the surrounding waterways; at night, audiences congregated on the building’s steps to watch screenings, from blockbusting animation classics to early cinema accompanied by a live score.
The Folly was designed as giant construction kit, which allowed volunteers of any skill or commitment level to get involved in building it. The walls of the Folly were an inter-woven bead curtain. At the end of the summer, they were unstrung and used to make new play and planting facilities for a local primary school. The success of the project persuaded the London Legacy Development Corporation to invest in permanent infrastructure which has allowed the site to continue as a public space.