Last night’s dinner for London Festival of Architecture sponsors and supporters was fun. We held it on the top of Jean Nouvel’s One New Change Building with spectacular views across to St Paul’s cathedral. It being on the top of the building, the interior of the restaurant reflects the “stealth” architecture of the shopping mall — a bit deconstructed and angular. Not really my cup of tea but I have to admit it created a great party space and everyone hung around long after the food was finished, which is always a good sign. Most of the food was London-sourced — except for the fish, and the pineapples, of course.
Arrivals were offered a pina colada in a real pineapple which was tasty and probably a lot more alcoholic than it seemed at the time. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Angela Brady, who’s doing a great job at Portland Place — so personable and enthusiastic she even makes procurement sound interesting. On my other side was Tony Pidgley of housebuilder Berkeley and my fellow debater from the previous evening, Newham’s Clive Dutton. Michael Squire was on the table too and he discussed how Squire and Partners are transforming a the street outside their office into a picnic garden designed for play.
The event includes an installation, The Poundshop, selling designer/maker wares from a custom-designed kiosk, performances by young dancers from The Place and lunch and drinks from the kitchen at 06 St Chad’s Place, the practice’s canteen.
I had a chat to Robin Partington, who had been one of the design architects for 30 St Mary Axe, about the geometry of the Gherkin and pineapples. Whereas pineapples grow according to the Fibonacci logarithmic spiral, the Foster building is a simpler Archimedian spiral. Bang goes part of my argument about the similarity of the building to a pineapple.
The relationship of health to the festival theme of play takes centre stage this afternoon with the Think Tank at the NLA on the subject of Planning for a Healthier City looking at Egret West’s designs for Surrey Canal: London’s sporting village. The masterplan includes major sports facilities and a strategy to integrate sport into the community.
Next week on July 4 at 7pm at the Wellcome Foundation there will be a debate entitled Architecture as Antidote: should cities make us fit? It’s chaired by Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas and a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, and speakers include Mirko Zardini, director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture and curator of the recent exhibition Imperfect Health the Medicalization of Architecture, and David Burney, director of Design and Architecture for the City of New York. Should be lively.
I popped round to Clerkenwell Green to see Chetwoods’ display of work by students from Oxford Brookes and was pleased to find that the practice has pineapples on the railings outside the office.
This weekend I’ll be spending a lot of time around the Fitzrovia hub where there will be workshops for families, open studios, exhibitions, walking tours and games, and I’ll leading the Pineapple Bike Ride around Westminster and the City on Sunday. I also want to try and get down to Canary Wharf at some stage and have a look at their Canstruction project where practices have designed huge structures with tins cans of food — which will be distributed by the food charity Fareshare afterwards.