Amongst the abandoned diggers, unexploded bombs, and Medieval bodies, a labyrinth of Tube tracks — both fully functional and obsolete — wind beneath the streets of London. Last week the city got a whole new subterranean social scene at the House of Vans, a series of five disused tunnels outfitted with bars, a diner, gallery, music venue, and skate park.
This might seem like a stretch, but it’s actually not the first time the space will be used for an artsy good time. In 2010, the 30,000-square-feet of disused transport passages were all but forgotten, until they were “discovered” in what sounds like a modern archaeological Mad Libs story: Kevin Spacey’s executive assistant Hamish Jenkinson was entering a Banksy exhibition at a popular graffiti spot near Waterloo when he noticed a side door, which he kicked through, and found himself in this gritty urban oasis under the station. Sure! Why not??
The Old Vic Theatre purchased the site, and Jenkinson became the creative director of the Old Vic Tunnels, which themselves transformed into a thriving hub for pop-ups and performances until it closed last year.
Now, the footwear giant has given the whole area a major makeover — in the spirit of its Brooklyn venue — and reopened it to the public.
After a grand ribbon cutting and sweaty soiree last week, it looks like there is already tons of programming lined up, along with regular open hours during the week if you want to pop in and see what’s going on.
Based on its origin story and unassuming entrance, it’s cool to imagine how many other long-lost zones are just waiting patiently below the light of day for a chance to thrill a brand new generation. [Creative Review; Culture Critic; The Telegraph]