osa londons´ project 'intact' in icon - architecture+design, issue 017


a redundant railway signal box in shoreditch, east London, has been given an illegal makeover by a group of guerrilla architects.
The elevated concrete structure, on a fenced-off former railway yard, now resembles a suburban mock-Tudor house complete witj a tiny astro-turf garden, after a dawn raid by a team who call themselves Office for Subversive Architecture, or just OSA London.
The project is intended to raise awareness of how former industrial sites in the Thames Gateway area to the east of LOndon are being developed for housing without much thought for their design.
"The way the structure has been refurbished looks directly into the deeply guarded ideology of the 'dream house'," says OSA London's website.
"We got up at 6am on an Saturday morning, jumped over the fence with paintbrushes and ladders, and were out again by 2pm." says Trenton Oldfield, who describes himself as a "freelance urbanist".
He adds:"It's a bit of a joke but it's also a duiscussion on the type of housing being built in the Thames Gateway - old-fashioned houses with gardens."
Oldfield says the group asked permission from the landowners to carry out the project but were refused. "We just decided to get on witj it," he says.
The authorities have tried to erase the intervention, ripping up the artificial grass and flowers, smashing the windows and removing the battery-powered light thaht make the building appear to be inhabited at night.
Yet Oldfield says the project has triggered local people's memories of the building. "People started coming forward with details of its history," says Oldfield. "It has appeared on record covers and it was featured in Time Out magazine in the early Nineties."
The team also dicoverd that the building has been inhabited at one point, but the squatter was removed when land values in the area started to rise.
Marcus Fairs