First Base’s Olaide Oboh makes the case for meaningful meanwhile use

Meanwhile use does exactly what it says on the  tin – its meanwhile, temporary and interim.  Once the bulldozers and cranes move in, meanwhile use disappears with the old and is replaced with the shiny and new.

But like many of you, I fall in love with meanwhile use and want more.  Whether its because its fun, it brings activity to a forgotten area or it generates real community spirit.  Surely we can find a better way to support meanwhile?  Exactly my starting point as we explored this at our future development in Bristol.  A city rich in culture also falls victim to meanwhile use being moved on when new developments come along.

Working with a local arts collective, Centre of Gravity we decided to approach this differently.  How can we occupy spaces in advance of development?  How can we integrate cultural infrastructure long term?  How can we ensure that culture and creativity is ingrained into the DNA of a place?

We don’t have all the answers to this but we are challenging ourselves everyday.  And out of this – Centre of Gravity X Soapworks was born.  A celebration of visual arts, community and culture in Bristol in the iconic Soap Pan building – the former Gardiner Haskins warehouse.

Despite the challenges of C-19 and social distancing, the team assembled a wonderful array of artists and brought their work to life within the vast spaces within the buildings.

Caraboo worked with Bristol based Soap and Poetry to design quirky and interesting soaps to wash all your transgressions away.  Diverse Artists Network showcased Bristol’s campaigning spirit by inviting people to contribute thoughts and ideas about how to unlock in Bristol, physically and metaphorically.  As a collective, they urged the community to “Listen carefully to yourself and others, and speak thoughtfully”. Frea Buckler brought colour to the industrial space and Mariele Neudecker used light and sound to showcase the beauty of the old buildings.

At the end of October, this meanwhile use might pop off but not forever.  This philosophy of culture and creativity is being designed in and we are working together to find a home(s) for creativity to continue to thrive within the Soapworks development and further afield in Bristol.  So watch this space…