Containers provide Affordable Space to Rent in Artworks Elephant Scheme

Posted on 14 December, 2013 by Kirsten Kennedy

Southwark Council and property group Lend Lease have announced they will be teaming up for an ambitious plan which they hope will attract 60 creative start-ups to London’s Elephant and Castle.

The site, which is presently undergoing redevelopment, will soon be home to 50 recycled shipping containers which the partnership believes can be utilised as an affordable and environmentally friendly base from which growing businesses can operate.

Project Artworks Elephant, as the scheme is known, will only be an interim measure during Southwark Council and Lend Lease’s £3 billion regeneration of Elephant and Castle which is not expected to be completed for another 15 years in total.

However, developers hope that businesses utilising the temporary commercial accommodation will move on to take permanent spaces on either Walworth Road or Heygate Street when redevelopment works are completed.

Project Director for Elephant & Castle at Lend Lease, Pascal Mittermaier, believes that recycling shipping containers in this way is not only useful for small businesses but will help spark interest in the project throughout the local community.

He says; “We want to transform Elephant & Castle for the better and a vital part of this is improving the local economy and retail environment.

“We understand from other major urban regenerations which we have delivered elsewhere in the world how difficult it can be for early stage businesses to find affordable space to rent in expensive cities such as London.

“Artworks Elephant will help to break down some of those barriers and provide an interesting and vibrant place that we hope will encourage local people and visitors alike to spend their money and time in the Elephant.”

Incubators of this kind are not uncommon in countries such as the USA and Japan, yet tend to utilise affordable office space or transformed commercial spaces such as multi-storey car parks rather than recycled shipping containers. By thinking outside the box, the development partnership has truly managed to land upon an innovative and extremely affordable solution to London’s shortage of commercial space for small businesses.

Artworks Director Charlie Fulford expressed his excitement at the unveiling of the scheme, saying; “This is an innovative project that will bring immediate economic and social benefits to the Elephant and Castle and help establish a real sense of place.

“We hope Artworks will be a lively and vibrant place for the occupiers as well as all the visitors to the site.”

Do you think that schemes of this type, utilising development space and recycled materials in conjunction with each other, should be expanded nationwide in order to create more affordable commercial space for small businesses, or is it only really necessary in areas like London where rents are increasing due to high demand?

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