The Fringe is 'popping up' in an enormous four storey Victorian warehouse which, interestingly, was originally used to stable horses after long days pulling boats along the canal (the horse riding nerd inside me was pleased to note the original markings of the stalls still visible on the second floor). Visit the website here to get an official run down on what each part of the building will offer: expect buzzing lounges and bars, big screens, street food, workspaces and sumptuous private suites.
We hopped on board a Water Chariot canal boat at Limehouse dock and cruised along the canal towards the Olympic stadium. Water Chariots will be running boats too and from The Fringe throughout the games and will have sole access to the canal system for the duration.
Upon arrival we crowded into the ground floor bar where we sampled some fantastic cocktails created especially for the The Fringe by Sweet & Chilli (the Ginford Christy, as the name suggests, was a clear winner) before embarking on a tour of the four floors and courtyard that will make up the venue. The building is currently bare bones but I think when it’s finished it will have an amazing, eclectic vibe - industrial, temporary and arty (as befits the area) with a lux finish. Artwork by Tim Flach nods to the buildings equestrian past but when it's finished it will also boast work by Charlotte Cory, as well as furniture by Swiss designers Vitra and some humongous crystal chandlers by Baccarat.
The courtyard and first floor spaces will be a mixture of bars and lounge areas with space to work and dine whilst watching the games via LCD screens. The third and fourth floors are available for private hire (for a cool £15,000 or £50,000 a day respectively). The third floor comprises three interconnecting rooms and the emphasis is on a fully customiseable space which can be re-dressed to cater for any situation be it a sit down banquet or a disco. The fourth floor houses the Penthouse suite. Flanked on three sides by large windows which can be opened up if the sun has his hat on or (as was the case on Thursday night) bolted against the freezing wind the view of the stadium is incredible. When the crowd inside is roaring I couldn't imagine a better place to watch the games.
Here were able to sample some truly delectable canapes by Rhubarb (who will be providing all the bespoke catering for the duration of the games) that I will remember until the day I die. These guys are truly knock out and will be on hand to dream up bespoke catering solutions.
I was really glad to get the chance to see the space before it's fully transformed - The building has so much character on it's own I think it's going to be breathtaking when finished. I lived in a warehouse in Hackney Wick for a few months back in 2010 (when I started blogging in fact) so I know the area a little. This whole area of London fascinates me because you can visualise it’s industrial past so clearly. The canal system which carves up the River Lea is lined with some beautiful bricks and mortar warehouse buildings, a legacy of the various chemical companies that were based in the area. These warehouse buildings belong to a bye gone era and are unlikely to be be replaced with anything but flats built from breeze blocks so I was pleased to see one being re-purposed for something so modern and ambitious.