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On the south side of the River Thames between Battersea and Albert bridges sits a collection of Victorian buildings; formerly a dairy, latterly a tile kiln, its reincarnation as creative hub TESTBED1® was conceived by the late Prof. Will Alsop OBE RA in 2009, over a glass of wine with the owner.
TESTBED1® became a meeting point for surrounding creative entities such as the Royal College of Art, Vivienne Westwood and Foster & Partners. It housed The Doodle Bar, Edge of Arabia Gallery, Squint/Opera, a whiskey distillery, Street Kitchen and a mix of start-ups and established small businesses.
A programme of events; exhibitions, film location services and hosted talks emerged that attracted around 3,000 visitors each week. University of the Creative Arts, Canterbury, brought their MULTISTORY lecture series; Street Kitchen provided gourmet food in a box, The London Distillery Company began producing the first gin to be made in London for 100 years, Edge of Arabia Gallery brings contemporary art from the Middle East and world champion fighter Barry McGuigan built a boxing ring and practice gym next to the TESTBED1® ‘yard’.
Will encouraged community engagement and collaboration and in 2013 created ‘The Beach’ an al-fresco, riverside bar and dining area to which locals flocked to share wine, food and ideas. The courtyard offered free ping-pong and foosball tables, minigolf and seating space for anyone visiting or working in the building.
TESTBED1®'s inaugural event was a performance by Bruce McLean and it has hosted a wide range of events such as the Royal College of Art Degree Show to a concert by Sir Richard Rodney Benett, furniture design exhibitions, TV filming, and theatre plays.
TESTBED is a place for experiment; a wisp of a thought, a nugget of an idea, the beginning of a dream. In this space, a vast and meandering room, a group of innovative and sympathetic minds huddle together to throw around ideas and start an on-going discussion about art, music and the future. TESTBED2, 3 & 4® are in development in London and on-site in Chongqing, China. The spaces will be used to stage one-off events to which the public will be invited to contribute and join the debate - or simply to come and have a glass of wine.