Most people who pass within a mile or so of North Greenwich or the eastern side of the Isle of Dogs are likely to have seen a shimmering steel tower on the Greenwich Peninsula.

Maybe wondered what it is.

It’s art wrapped around industry.

The art was created by Conrad Shawcross in response to a very specific requirement, that a local power plant was going to need to have chimneys and they wanted to cover them in something appealing.

At 49 meters tall, 20 metres wide and 3 meters deep, the flue is a landmark for the area, although more as something to see from a distance as getting up close to it is remarkably difficult.

The idea was to create a cloak around the chimneys that varied depending on how close you get to it, shimmering and solid from a distance, but breaking up into perforated panels when seen closer. There are hundreds of aluminium panels used in the cloak, all made in the UK before being assembled on-site in 2016.

What you might also like to find if in the area is around the other side of the building, on Millenium Way, and it’s a work of art.

Created by FleaFolly Architects and originally called “A Line in Time”, it’s been renamed as “A Pinch in Time“, and if you squint a bit and stand back, it’s just about possible to see that it’s a design based on circular motifs from the area such as the Blackwall gas tower, the Millennium Dome and the Great Hall of Queens House.

A total of 1,200 digitally printed ceramic tiles, which at its centre is literally ‘pinched’ to create an extruded 3-dimensional form.

The concept is possibly easier to see on the walls around the building, where the pattern has been enlarged and spread out a bit, but as a relief in black, it’s hard to see from a distance.

The main artwork is eye-catching, if looking a bit odd in the location, but is likely to seem less of an aberration once the rest of the area is developed.


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  1. Sara says:

    I’ve always wondered what that “cloak” was – I love it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Clint says:

    The optic cloak is so beautiful and constantly changes depending on weather, light and distance. I have lived here for 4 years and it still takes my breath away

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