There is a moderately interesting exhibition on improving open spaces in London – currently being shown in Somerset House. It is full of lots of BIG signs and fluffy filler which doesn’t actually tell you anything – and a rather weird video about trying to improve the Aldgate area for pedestrians.

However, it does give you a quick overview of the current thoughts going on to improve some areas, mainly towards the East of London.

Most interesting to me, was a lectern in a very dark room with a single poor light which illuminated a book describing plans to improve the Embankment in central London. Damn difficult to read in the exhibition, it was nonetheless worth persevering with as the information is quite good. The basic core plan is to remove the central separator in the road and squash the lanes slightly – which frees up more space to widen the pedestrian route and make it more appealing.

There are also three very large (A3) posters explaining the plans – you can tear off a copy and read it later. A rear exhibition has a load of postcards showing images of areas where planning will take place, and I took a few which showed places I might want to have a look at in the near future anyway.

One thing which – again – annoyed me was one exhibit condemning the riverside developments of the 1990s in the docklands, and as I saw recently in the Building Centre, they don’t actually explain what is wrong with them or how they would change things. I really worry that they want to impose unsustainable “social developments” onto the riverside which will look good for a few months, and end up looking tired and scruffy as the councils lack the funds to maintain them.

I live in a riverside apartment, and we have a wonderful, wide riverside footpath which seems to be enjoyed by loads of people (inc me) throughout the year. Indeed, it is the local council owned properties which block off riverside access, not the 90s developments which the planners seem to loathe.

Hopefully I will get to meet some of these “concerned planners” in the future and find out what it is about the developments they seem to dislike so much and how they would fund their unspecified vision.

A final note, the exhibition is very “arty” and not hugely informative – go in, read the signs, grab the tear off sheets (vastly more informative) and wander round – but don’t expect to spend more than 20 minutes there, and that is presuming you read the books on the lecterns in the second space.

Next time dear exhibitors – put up more maps and plans – and fewer weird videos.

London Architecture Diary


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One comment
  1. Thanks for the tip off.

    You’re right, it’s very detail-light, but it was well worth attending for the take-away freebies.

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