The rain continued to be a pain, but people still came out for Festival events. We had a great turnout of begowned and bemedalled masters of City livery companies for the official laying-of-the-first-corner-joint of the Studio Weave installation on the site of the old gateway at Aldgate. The “palace upon pillars” constructed out of English larch will mark the former home of Chaucer as well as the start of High Street 2012, the route to Stratford. The installation has been organised by the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects (me mainly) to celebrate the Olympics coming to London. The final part of the structure will be erected— weather permitting — at midnight on Friday. I shall definitely be there.
En route to the Developing City exhibition I passed the site of Rogers Stirk Harbour’s Leadenhall building which is starting to take recognisable shape with signature yellow steelwork and canted fascia facing onto Lloyd’s. I then gave one of my regular curator’s tours of the show to 30 or so people. The visitor numbers have been really good with a steady flow all weekend and very encouraging comments from people as they leave .
Then over to the Cheapside Fayre, a part of Celebrate the City, where Camden children were playing in a drumming band, people were playing ping pong, the Bow Bells were ringing and a band was playing in One New Change. Food for thought for my debate about London at play with Liza Fior and Clive Dutton at RIBA futures on Tuesday.
Across to Hammersmith, where west London architects had organised a display about ideas for tunnelising the A4 road. Not such daft idea since the rotting Hammersmith flyover will continue to suck up money. Putting the six-lane dual carriageway underground might not be that much more expensive over time. The architects asked the local community what they thought and organised games for the children.
A few weeks ago the Architecture Foundation director gave me a tour of Gibbon’s Rent, a sleazy, syringe-scattered leftover space behind the AF’s office in Southwark. As a result of its Festival project, the area has now been transformed into a delightful green space, lined with potted plants, by Andrew Burns and Sarah Eberle. It was a great place for the opening party. After speeches and pizza people moved into the AF space on Tooley Street to enjoy Bureau Spectacular’s habitable installation. I slipped off to the Work Gallery in Acton Street for the Coop Himmelblau opening party and admired Kate Trant’s very cool installation of the radical sixties group’s drawings.
Then the rain came down. As I set out to meet Prof. Sergey Nikitin at Spitalfields for the start of the Velonotte night bike ride, it started to pour. Even so, when I got to Bishops Square there were several hundred cyclists prepared to brave the weather. Sergey has done similar rides in Moscow, New York, Rome and St Petersbourg, where he interviews experts about the architecture and history of the route in advance and then he broadcasts them to the cyclists on FM radio — in this instance Southwark’s Resonance FM. The soaked riders set off in good heart soon after midnight and, after a loop around east London landed up in Canary Wharf at about 5 in the morning. I left them at Spitalfields and went home to bed. I’ve got a busy week and need my sleep.