How do you get a US clothing and footwear brand to be associated with modern British culture? You transform the Old Vic Tunnels at London Waterloo of course! The tunnels no contain an indoor skate park and arts venue with gallery, cinema, café and artist studios.
For the past 4 years the tunnels have been used to host some award-winning programmes filled with music, film, art and more. For example, the tunnels have been transformed into old Brooklyn streets to be used for secret cinema nights, Michelin star pop-up restaurants and even the hosted the premiere of Banksy’s film, Exit Through the Gift Shop (which I urge you all to watch tonight, it’s deserving of it’s Oscar nomination). Last year funds from the Old Vic Theatre dried up and up until now the space has remained empty so it’s great that a brand such as Vans was able to step in and create something memorable.
‘House of Vans’ is now home to London’s only indoor skate park, complete with a 850 capacity music venue, 160 seat cinema, a gallery, as well as two bars and an industrial-looking cafe serving American-style food. Vans themed murals decorate the walls and Vans branded cushions scatter the cinema just to make sure you don’t forget who you need to thank for all this. ‘House of Vans’ have got the space for the next 3 years (possibly longer), in which time it will host art exhibitions, creative workshops, concerts and film screenings and is open to eat, drink and hang out in five days a week.
As all the facilities are free to use and rent ‘House of Vans’ asks musicians to donate a percentage of their ticket sales to Vans partner charities whilst creatives whose residency application is accepted can also exhibit work in the gallery at the end of their stay. As part of a bigger community push ‘House of Vans’ will hold a number of workshops for the local community as well as allowing free use of the indoor skate part (14 year old me would be going crazy right now).
In a statement announcing last weekend’s opening, Vans described the ‘House of Vans’ project as a “physical manifestation of the cultures and creativity that have defined [the brand] since 1966.” It’s hard to deny that ‘House of Vans’ is an impressive project and it’s great to see that the Old Vic Tunnels have got a new spark of energy injected into them.