Part creative community, part arts venue, Village Underground is a non-profit space for creativity and culture in the heart of East London.
The main Village Underground centre is housed in a renovated turn-of-the-century warehouse primed for everything from concerts and club nights to exhibitions, theatre, live art and other performances.
High above Great Eastern Street, atop the venue, four recycled Jubilee line train carriages and shipping containers make up the creative studios of Village Underground.
These uniquely renovated spaces accommodate up to 50 artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, VJ's, and musicians working side-by-side in a creative community.
In addition to being a cultural centre, Village Underground is an ecological project. From recycled trains and shipping containers, to reclaimed sleepers, staircases, furniture and flooring, we believe in reusing before recycling.
All studios are virtually carbon neutral. Powered by 24 PV solar panels, generating 4.92 kWp we create enough energy to run all of our lighting and office equipment. Additional electricity is supplied from Ecotricity - 100% green energy from wind turbines.
The living roof increases biodiversity, dampens concert noise, reduces urban heat, absorbs carbon emissions and provides insulation, cutting fuel consumption and minimizing environmental impact.
Village Underground was born of the need for affordable, environmentally stable studio space for artists in central London.
Originally we explored several sites for the project, but the Broad Street Rail Viaduct stole our hearts. Built in 1848, the viaduct had been derelict for over 20 years and had self seeded into a meadow with trees and wildlife.
Along with the viaduct, we negotiated with Hackney Council to also take over the then severely derelict Victorian warehouse. Where better to start a cultural centre than a place whose previous incarnations include a railway coal store, a music hall, and an eighteenth century theatre?
The main renovations took place over the course of a year, just in time for our opening April 2007.
Village Underground’s success has led to increasing international growth. We’re currently researching and engineering new sites in Berlin and Lisbon, with an eye on other world cities.
Ultimately, our goal is to share and exchange the vibrant culture of London with that of other nationalities and cities.
To this end we’re establishing more creative communities, venues and affordable facilities in which to experiment, play, produce and perform. Both through physical spaces and virtual networks, we’re starting to connect artists and other cultural influencers across the globe, fostering an international creative community with local accessibility.
We’re always interested in discussing future projects and locations with like-minded thinkers and practitioners. We’re also a proud member of Trans Europe Halles, an international network of independent cultural centres.
To rebuild the site we raised funds from a number loans from social enterprise and community development finance initiatives, London Rebuilding Society, Triodos Bank, Fair Finance and GLE One London, we also received a grant from UnLtd, The Foundation For Social Entrepreneurs.
This early funding was supplemented by the income of using our space for film and photography shoots and later events and artistic happenings. This continues to be the main income of Village Underground which operates as a self sustaining cultural organisation and social enterprise.