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New Boxpark ‘mall’ set to open in Shoreditch

Carla Gontier looks at Shoreditch’s scintillating new pop-up shopping mall.

BoxparkThe new Boxpark in Shoreditch: sexy, sexy, sexy.

Yet another win for the trendy area of Shoreditch, the Boxpark concept is set to be awesome. The idea is so simple, so slick, you wonder why some young gun hasn’t thought of it already. Take a few shipping containers, knock them together and throw in some stylish, sought-after boutique designers and hey presto: you have a chic, very East London shopping market.

The ‘mall’ – an oddly pedestrian name for such a unique place – will consist of two floors, comprising 40 containers on the ground floor and 20 on the first floor. It is located on Bethnal Green High Street, opposite The Tea Building (home to Shoreditch House). Although unconfirmed, Boxpark founder Roger Wade  has made mention of brands like Carhartt and Stussy taking their place in its metal walls, and it is thought that many young unknown designers will fill the containers as well.

Wade, an entrepreneur and a regular columnist for Drapers Online, will work in partnership with real estate developers Hammerson/Ballymore, using land that has been lying empty for the past 40 years. The developers were only set to use the land in five years or so, so Wade notes that the temporary Boxpark concept is beneficial to both parties; he gets his pop-up mall, and Hammerson/Ballymore’s land isn’t lying dormant for another five years. ‘Aesthetically I think I’ve always had a love of industrial design,’ he says. ‘The container is the ultimate industrial design, so why not use it in a retail perspective? And eventually I just felt compelled to build Boxpark.’

The idea is based on existing pop-up container concepts like the activity centre in Melbourne, and the home made from containers in Maine, USA. Wade notes that although he would like to develop the concept in other countries, right now he and his partners just want to get it right and perfect the idea before they move elsewhere. Boxpark is not openly calling for high street brands, but rather asking brands to approach them with unique ideas. It won’t only be clothes and shoes; there will be cafes, coffee shops, bicycle shops and anyone who is doing something a little bit different. As Wade describes it, it’s just going to be somewhere you can hang out on your lunch break.

Andrew Waugh of Waugh Thistleton, the architects involved in the project, admits: ‘In architecture, things take so long. You know … I’ll draw something and I won’t see the building for five years. As an architect this is fantastic.’ Shoreditch is the perfect place for the Boxpark idea; with its old markets and its dirty, vogue palette, Shoreditch seems made for this very purpose. Wade says: ‘If I could’ve chosen any site in the world, Shoreditch would be my number one site.’

Boxpark is set to be up and running by August 2011, and will initially only be in Shoreditch. But if the concept works, they will surely knock up a few others around London, or even the world. The site will come just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, where East London will become the centre of the world for a few short, action-packed weeks.

The opening hours will probably be between 12.00 – 8.00pm, although things aren’t set in stone just yet. So, if you’re tired of the same old thing you see on every high street, hang tight for Boxpark. It’s set to blow your mind!

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