The ever excellent Building Centre in central London (just off Tottenham Court Road) is hosting an exhibition about plans for waterfront living and transport in the city. Not just the obvious river Thames and Lee Valley, but also several other smaller tributary rivers in the London area.
There are a few mockups of housing developments dotted around the exhibition, including one which looks suspiciously like it was borrowed from a recent exhibition in Canary Wharf for the Wood Wharf development. More interesting, are the wall panels which line the place and detail all the development plans and the thinking behind them.
A very good – and free – catalogue is also available.
I think there is a bit too much emphasis on 3rd party planning of community areas – as in my experience such things invariably fall flat on their face and end up derelict. Put up simple riverside paths and open areas and leave it at that. Too often a regeneration is carried out with loads of cash poured into little used facilities which then have to be maintained by cash strapped and generally disinterested councils.
Also – alas – some people tend to abuse these facilities, and their antics can turn a pleasant open area into a no-go zone. Where I live, a public seating facility was provided right by the riverside and it was covered in graffiti within weeks, and most weekends during the summer it is overrun by drunk teenagers making a mess and nuisance to the local residents (who actually paid for the seating area).
I love having walks along the riverside and would never support blocking them off – but there needs to be a balance set between the rights of the general public to enjoy the spaces on their day off work – and the rights of the people who live there every single day, and who often paid for the facilities to be provided in the first place through the housing development they live in.
Even if you don’t go for the exhibition itself, the place is worth a visit for the incredible scale model of London showing all the new developments going on all over the city.
Rather irritatingly, they have just redesigned their website – and I am sure I saw something on there about a forthcoming exhibition which will really excite me – all about subterranean London. It doesn’t seem to be on there anymore, so I shall just have to keep a close eye out for it.