The London Pleasure Gardens site in the Royal Docks.Source: Agnese Sanvito
Matchmaker role under fire after London Pleasure Gardens chaos
One of the mayor of London’s Olympic fringe projects has been deemed a “nightmare” to deliver, with architects involved blaming both the client and RIBA for the confusion.
The high-profile temporary scheme, one of four selected by Boris Johnson’s office, is to turn 8ha of the Royal Docks into a 35,000-capacity arts and entertainment venue. It is being run by London Pleasure Gardens (LPG), a festival and events organiser that oversees one of Glastonbury’s most successful areas, Shangri-La.
A number of young practices including Foster Lomas, Nicholas Kirk Architects, Studio Squat and Visitor Studio were introduced to the LPG to work on the site by the RIBA, which this week claimed it only acted as a matchmaker and not a project manager.
But architects have complained they were given poor briefs, no contract and no budget for their projects. Tamsie Thomson, director of RIBA London, said: “We didn’t have a formal relationship with them [LPG] over structures. If people had raised these concerns we would have got involved or advised them not to go ahead.”
One practice, which estimates it lost £15,000 in work time on the project, told BD: “It was a nightmare. They [the RIBA] were out of their depth and they really should have looked after their own. In the end LPG called us direct and RIBA were sidelined.”
Another practice said it was still owed money for materials bought for its installation: “I’m worried now because of all of the problems they won’t pay me. I would need them [the RIBA] to step in and fight my corner if that happens.”
Moxon was asked to draw up plans for a bridge on the site, which it worked up to RIBA Stage D. Practice director Ben Addy said he had spent thousands of pounds on the work. “The project was dropped without anyone informing us, but on reflection this shouldn’t have surprised us, given the nature of the organisers,” he added. “We would not go near this client again, but also there are some cute aspects to our scheme so we’re happy to keep it in the back pocket.”
London Pleasure Gardens opened a week late as part of the London Festival of Architecture on June 30, with visitors complaining about the steep drinks prices and dusty air. Last weekend the Bloc music festival was cancelled due to fears of overcrowding.