The opening, which was first announced back in 2019 and has been billed as a rooftop urban farm and market designed to produce 60-80 tonnes of mixed vegetables a year, is a collaboration between Mercato Metropolitano, Redbridge Council and the Mayor of London, and is part of a wider local initiative known as the ‘SPARK’.
Redbridge Council helped to secure a grant for the project, located within Ilford's new cultural quarter, from the London Economic Action Partnership and the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund.
“Mercato Ilford is the next step in the ambitious programme to redevelop Ilford town centre to become a new cultural and creative quarter for the local community," says Jules Pipe CBE, Deputy Mayor of London.
"We’re pleased to see the construction of the new food market, which is sustainable and a great example of putting circular economy principles into practice.”
Mercato Metropolitano, which currently operates three markets across London in Elephant & Castle, Mayfair and Elephant Park respectively, has engaged with local artists from neighbouring SPACE Ilford to create artwork that will initially be displayed around the construction site and later moved within the market when it opens.
Over half of the site’s sustainable timber frame has now been built, with the internal fit-out due for completion in late-September.
“This project is a great example of how private organisations such as Mercato Metropolitano and other SPARK partners can create synergies with local and regional authorities to deliver inclusive and representative regeneration within city centres,” says Amedeo Claris, managing director of Mercato Metropolitano.
Mercato Metropolitano Ilford is one of two further openings in the capital planned by the artisanal food market group in 2021 as part of a £35m global expansion plan.
Later this summer it will launch a new 'neighbourhood concept' in London's Canary Wharf called MMy Wood Wharf, which is described as 'a distillation' of the larger markets operated by Mercato Metropolitano that's aimed at local neighbourhoods.
“We are heavily focused on creating a global movement to engage with residents in local communities and improve food accessibility, support local culture, and foster conviviality," says Andrea Rasca, Mercato Metropolitano's founder and CEO.
"Our Ilford project is one of strategic importance for us.”
Mercato Metropolitano is aiming to open a total of 10 new sites around the world by 2025, with US locations in Atlanta, Boston, Miami and New York planned alongside Berlin, Lisbon and Milan in Europe.
Longer-term, further markets are planned for secondary cities in the UK and globally.
The group expects the expansion drive to create around 2,000 new jobs.