Ilford Community Market

Tags: community, retail, timber, low carbon

  • Client: Mercato Metropolitano
  • Photographer: Webb Yates Engineers
  • Completion: Ongoing
  • Value: Confidential
  • Expertise: Structures, Building Services
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers
Ilford Community Market - Webb Yates Engineers

We are working with Mercato Metropolitano to develop a community food market and hydroponic farm in Ilford town centre. Circular economy principals are central to the scheme, which sequesters carbon through its gluelaminated timber frame and is designed so that the entire building and its assets can be dismantled, adapted and reconstructed.

The project is supported by the GLA’s Good Growth Fund, and Redbridge Council’s regeneration scheme, Spark Ilford, and will be sited on a neglected surface car park in Ilford town centre for a period of five years. Consequently, the timber structure is designed in flexible, re-deployable modules to accommodate its disassembly and reconfiguration on future ‘meanwhile’ sites. Adaptable timber feet and gabion baskets have been used in place of below-ground foundations so that at the end of the Market’s residency in Ilford, the site will be left undamaged and free from large, wasteful, energy intensive concrete foundations.

Circular Economy principles form a large part of the operational functioning of the Market. The hydroponic farm, housed in polytunnels on the roof, contributes to the produce sold at the market; and waste will be processed in an on-site anaerobic biodigester which will provide hot water and electricity to the market, reducing its reliance on the grid. The project has been detailed to eliminate material wastage through maintenance, using bolted connections and cladding and waterproofing systems that are mechanically fixed in small sections. This enables localised repair in the event of damage as opposed to disproportionate replacement of large areas of the building and assets such as the lift and the toilet block will be leased rather than purchased from the manufacturers.

The new community market hopes to enable its users live by circular economy principles. The development of the market will result in the replacement of over 100 parking spaces with cycle spaces, encouraging a move away from private transport in this well-connected urban space. Food, presented on recycled and natural serving-ware, is celebrated as an important catalyst for conviviality and social cohesion. Visitors to the market are invited to share the experience of eating together and further sharing of resources is encouraged through a flexible multipurpose space within the market.

Ilford Community Market and Hydroponic Farm is an inclusive, exciting and innovative facility which will support small businesses, have tangible and lasting benefits to the surrounding community and set a precedent for sustainable urban markets of the future. The final scheme is the result of tightly integrated structural, building services and spatial design – evidencing the benefits of transdisciplinary architecture and engineering.


  1. New London Awards 2019 , Meanwhile, shortlisted, 7 2019