Photographer Anton Rodriguez, the genius behind the Residents: Inside the Barbican project, takes a look at the interior of some of the flats in the Bow Quarter, the East End’s most mysterious housing complex. Here’s your chance to have a nosey behind closed doors of some very interesting homes.
To many, Bow Quarter is known as the strange gated community on Fairfield Road. We wanted to find out a bit more about what goes on behind the big iron gates and the people who live behind them, and maybe steal a few interior design tips.
Bow Quarter was once London’s largest match factory and home to a landmark event of the early days of socialism – the Matchgirls’ strike of 1888. It looks pretty different from that today, after being turned into New York loft-style apartments just before the turn of the century. The various buildings in Bow Quarter are named after parts of New York – Manhattan, Lexington, Park East and Park Central to name just a few.
Alison Girdiefski – Manhattan Building
Alison has lived in Bow Quarter for 20 years with her husband Andrew and dogs Princess & Ziggy.
‘Bow Quarter evolves cyclically – new people, evolving growth and the addition of the Olympics have meant the surrounding underdeveloped areas have flourished with exceptional transport links and a rich diversity of business and culture.’
Richard Beverley – Park East Building
Richard has lived in Bow Quarter for nearly seven years.
‘I think the whole gated community creates a ‘you and them’ issue but if you get involved in the local community, use the bars, shops, local clubs, that are ran outside of the BQ walls you can add to the community and get to know people outside of BQ which is great.’
Aislinn McGurk – Park East Building
Aislinn has lived in Bow Quarter for a couple of years.
‘When we first moved in this ‘Britain By Drone’ TV programme had just aired on C4 and suggested people living here had made a choice to live separately from the area and London. I’ve lived here for two years and I think the producers got slightly carried away. The only thing I do differently is use 5th Avenue as a local shop and got to cancel my gym membership in central London. I still spend as much time on Roman Road, in Victoria Park and in local pubs and restaurants. There is a lovely sense of community within Bow Quarter and in the Bow area.’
Tracy Baskin – Manhattan Building
Tracy has lived in Bow Quarter for 25 years.
‘I don’t like some of the politics involved – lots of people = lots of politics. You can be as sociable or as unsociable as you want & over the years I’ve made a lot of good friends here.’
Nick Morgan – Lexington Building
Nick has lived in Bow Quarter for seven years.
‘I am always keen to be part of the local community and whilst gated communities offer security it also sets a divide. I made sure I was active in the community and now sit on the Roman Road Trust board as commercial director. They have done a great job promoting all the different retail offerings on the Roman Road in Bow and Globe Town.’
Richard Carter – Manhattan Building
Christopher Gadd – Manhattan Building
Christopher has lived in Bow Quarter for four years.
‘The gate isn’t great; it reflects the inequality in the area. I don’t think it’s “bad” for Bow, because it has maintained an important and beautiful building, and brought trade into the area, but I think the range of types of housing could have been better aligned with that of the local community – just like it would be if it were a new development now. We should open it up to the local community more.’
Alexandra Davis – Manhattan Building
Alexandra has lived in Bow Quarter for almost four years.
‘I love the history and that the conversion of the factory buildings was very sympathetic. I think the design of the one beds in Manhattan and Lexington in particular is very clever. There’s something satisfying about living in a space that has everything you need and no more.’