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How Long is Meanwhile?

by Elsa Kenningham, Workspace Community Coordinator, Meanwhile Space

23rd January 2024

Once upon a time there was an empty row of small retail units sitting over in Willesden Green... Open since 2012, Queens Parade is now our longest running project and a testament to the value of meanwhile use.

The early days...

Meanwhile Space partnered with The Architecture Foundation and Blue Consulting to activate eight vacant units on Walm Lane. Over the 12 years that we've been operating the site a range of businesses, retail and services, have had a chance to occupy the space; to try out and develop ideas; to expand their customer base; and to flourish or fail, thanks to the affordable rent and flexible contract terms. 

The Current Line Up

Hugel mounds, a technique in permaculture, are created by layering logs, branches and tree debris to form mounds, before covering them with a layer of top soil. Scroll through the pics to the right to see this process - from the design stage to functioning flower beds!

The mounds have several benefits, including good water retention in the summer and heat generation through the organic matter rotting in the mound and encouraging healthy growth for the plants. Building up is also a way to avoid the digging constraint. We sourced the logs from Southwark Timber Yard recycle centre (thanks Neil!) and Trees Are Us tree surgeon over in Brockley. The branches and garden waste were sourced locally, and we chose organic, peat-free soil from Earth Cycle. It took seven sessions between July and September, with a range of volunteers helping, to complete this stage.

The Future of Queens Parade

​The Hithe Garden volunteers helped prime the boards and paint bright colour patterns using a durable waterproof boat paint to help them last as long as possible in the outdoors. We have assembled these boards into boxes which are to be varnished before assembly in January... Other plans include installing a greenhouse and expanding our community events programme. Lots more to come!

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