The Gopher Hole

Nestled beneath the floorboards of El Paso in London’s Old Street was a one-time band venue that together with co-founders Aberrant Architecture was transformed into The Gopher Hole, a dynamic project space for contemporary architecture and design. For our first exhibition, About a Minute (December 2010 – February 2011), we invited conceptual artists, architects, designers and writers to respond to the idea that in our contemporary information-saturated lives, we are losing the capacity to focus – a minute is all we seem to have. The thoughtful, provocative or playful artworks we chose ranged from a cassette player inviting visitors to play a minute-long piece of spoken word poetry, some rapid-prototyped chairs based on 60-second descriptions, and even a ringing phone visitors could answer to engage in a minute-long phone conversation with someone in China.

Other exhibitions included Project Heracles (July 2011 – August 2011), a display of hundreds of imaginative postcards from people around the world illustrating their fun, futuristic and poignant ideas to bridge a deeper connection between Europe and Africa. The concept was the brainchild of two Brussels-based philosophers and writers, Lieven De Cauter and Dieter Lesange. Proposals ranged from avant-garde visions of bridges across the Gibraltar strait, to a whimsical extension of the Northern line to Fnideq, Morocco. We printed each idea on 100 postcards and displayed them in the Gopher Hole, free for the public to take home. Working with artists, architects, writers and designers was key to the curatorial philosophy of the Gopher Hole: interrogating popular culture across disciplinary borders.

The Gopher Hole is not simply a gallery: it is a platform, a laboratory of experimentation – transcending boundaries, questioning assumptions, furthering knowledge, sidestepping the obvious, breeding and cross-fertilising ideas and, most importantly, taking risks. It exudes energy. Architecture needs more Gopher Holes.
Joseph Grima, Design Academy Eindhoven