illegal refurbishment of a signal box /// london-shoreditch /// 2004 - 2006

When we walked through an area in Shoreditch, east of Brick Lane we spotted
a little house on stilts, formally used as a signal box but now as defunct as the disused viaduct it stands on. This house looked like a small and forlorn version of stereotypical and slightly ‘twee’ cottage. Although it was old and weathered these idyllic associations made it appear out of place in its rough urban environs like a strange ‘Building-Alien’.
We immediately thought that this structure needed a treat and set about refurbishing the house in a way that aimed to express the idealised vision of a dream property. We called it ‘Intact’. After a lengthy and unsuccessful process of trying to get permission from the authorities we decided to do this project ‘guerrilla’ style and embarked on an illegal makeover starting early in the morning and finishing 10 hours later.
Unfortunately this ‘dream home’ was destroyed three days later and we were forced to return to restore and add new elements for our official opening. After further vandalism we came back for the last time to add a final element, a huge fluffy ‘animal alien.’
Public reaction to this project and other interventions of its kind has been overwhelming. Through a simple, low budget and temporary action on a specific site such projects capture the imagination and raise awareness and debate around the spaces that we often pass by without so much as a glance.


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Busch, Akiko
Geography of home. Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999
Selle, Gert
Die eigenen vier Wände: zur verborgenen Geschichte des Wohnens. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, New York, 1993