Spotlight: Gavin Elliott
— 28 Apr 2017, 18:21
Like all great designs there is a great mind behind them, and Boxpark Croydon was fortunate to have the architectural mind of, BDP's Gavin Elliott at the helm. Croydon has played home to Boxpark for almost six months (doesn't time fly!) and so, we thought, this would be the ideal time to sit down with Gavin and reflect on his journey to build an entertainment complex from shipping containers.
How did you get involved with the development of Boxpark Croydon?
Roger Wade (Boxpark's creator and CEO) and I met through a mutual friend, Tom Bloxham, Chairman of Urban Splash. I’d done some stuff with shipping containers for Tom, and Roger had made Boxpark Shoreditch, and so we discovered we had a shared enthusiasm for trying to do innovative things with shipping containers.
How did you go about creating an environment that would be fit for dining and leisure as well as regular small and large traditional scale events?
The idea grew out of a conversation I had with Roger. Shoreditch is a great venue but it didn't have any enclosed space, until 2017. So it worked well in the summertime but it wasn't as hospitable in the colder and wetter months. Roger and I got talking about previous projects like the traditional market halls in the likes of Covent Garden and Borough Market; so, we came up with the idea of putting the containers around the edge of the site and have them facing in, and then creating a covered multi-functional space in the middle. Which gave us the perfect combination of smaller internal spaces in the containers, and then the bigger flexible space between them, which could be used for almost anything!
How does Boxpark Croydon compare to other projects you've worked on?
It's probably been a bit more chaotic than any other projects but it's also been lot more fun! The programme was really fast and although there was a lot of pre-construction preparation, we got to the ‘making-it-up-as-you-go-along’ stage a lot quicker than we sometimes do; especially on bigger, slower projects.
What was your reaction when you found out that Boxpark Croydon was shortlisted in the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Awards 2017?
I was very pleased but I'll be so much happier if we actually pick up the award!
How did you feel when Boxpark Croydon launched in October 2016?
It was a strangely emotional experience. Things had been so busy leading up to the opening week and everyone was feeling a bit frazzled. We hadn’t really had a chance to stand back and take stock of what we had achieved. The Eskimo Dance launch was absolutely incredible, so after all the hassle and stress, it was really quite overwhelming!
How do you think structures like Boxpark Shoreditch & Croydon can shape the future of business and entertainment?
I think they show that there will always be a place on the high street for businesses with great ideas and energy. As the world of retail becomes increasingly homogenised and boring, there’s a huge opportunity for independent retailers and entrepreneurs to provide the excitement and innovation that most high streets lack.
Finally, which Boxpark Croydon trader would you recommend to customers?
It's too hard to pick just one! The thing about Boxpark, and the Croydon site in particular, is the overall sense of community and fun. I really would defy anyone to go there and not have a great time.