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Photos: Trippy, Cool Container Yard Is The Artsy City Of The Future

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The Container Yard is a cutting edge and still-evolving art space just outside L.A.’s Skid Row in the Arts District. Its unpredictable layout gives it a surreal feel. The space is a vision of a self-contained and environmentally-sound city of the future.

“Whether it’s coffee roasting or fish farming or aquaponic vegetable growing, there can be these cottage industries that exist in a space that was always meant to be industrial but now can coexist in this retail, residential, manufacturing space,” founder and operator Ash Chan told LAist. “And that’s an efficient city. You have the entire chain of the industries connected in this core of the city.”

The post-industrial warehouse used to be a factory and distribution site for Mikawaya which makes mochi, the sticky rice-covered Japanese ice cream dessert. Now it’s a winding, 60,000 square-foot maze of bricks, corrugated metal and beautifully-executed murals of varying style, from classical to street art by artists both local and international.

"It’s like a miniature Sim City," Chan said. "Once you open a door here, it changes everything."

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If you’re not getting lost wandering through Alice In Wonderland-type doorways and passages to new art spaces, you may find yourself inside VNTGPOP, a pop-up vintage clothing store run by Pop Annemarie. The store is housed in an inconspicuous, cacao and gold-colored shipping container.

Walk a couple dozen feet and Chan will open another shipping container used for self-sustaining vegetable-growing aquaponics. Live tilapia fish swimming in tanks are nutrient generators for about two dozen basil plants. A few feet from that, another container houses a full kitchen set-up. Both, of course, are brightly painted.

Chan, 37, isn’t yet sure how the space will eventually be used by the public. What he does know is that he wants it to be a meeting place where people can relax and enjoy art, communicate with each other and feel the pulse of L.A.

“This space, as a creative space, it has to inspire,” he said. “I’d love to see people just meeting and chatting.”

Interest from some big food, coffee and marketplace vendors has been plentiful so far.

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The Container Yard currently hosts special events, and may start with weekend barbecues in the near future, Chan said. This year, the Container Yard will be home to Artopia—an arts, music, food and drinks festival—on April 30 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Chan believes the event could be a turning point for potential artists, businesses and concept ideas for the space.

The Container Yard is located at 800 E. 4th St., downtown L.A.