I went for a walk along the South Bank – from Waterloo to Tower Bridge – on the last Saturday in November. It was busy (that’s a mild description) especially on the river front – the Queens Walk. Most of the people were not more than thirty somethings and I was about the only old-fogey in the crowd. I just took a few snaps until it got too dark to take any more.
There is talk (from the Office of National Statistics) that young people are starting to leave London – and migrate to places like Birmingham, not that there was much evidence of this along the South Bank on this particular Saturday! It is happening because of the difficulty of finding housing and whilst such city migration is not yet on anything like a large scale, it would be a disaster if it were to become so because young people provide the necessary creativity in the Arts, Technology, Finance, Business etc. to make London the place it is. Nonetheless Housing Policy (is there any Housing Policy?) needs to urgently address this if London is to remain the competitive international City that it is. Over expensive swanky skyscrapers of empty properties as appreciating assets for rich foreigners won’t make London rich, even if the architecture is exciting. An attempt to instigate some policy in this area is being made by Islington Council who have framed a policy to stipulate in future Section 106 agreements (the bit whereby developers make some provision back to the local community in their planning application) that properties must not be left empty. Of course it might get challenged in the Courts.
Anyway, to the photographs: they are, as I say in the Headline – just a few snaps – though one or two are worth a few mentions.
I start off with a picture of the National Theatre taken from Upper Ground looking towards the river. It does show the very considerable bulk of the building. Next comes one of the new swanky towers. Actually – an old office tower originally designed by Richard Siefert (architect of Centre Point at the junction of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road) once called Kings Reach but now being converted to residential and renamed as South Bank Tower. It is technically very clever because the architects of the conversion – KPF – have added eleven extra floors without new foundations. (This was due to some bright sparks at an engineering consultancy called AKT II Ltd). This is being done as a rival to the next snap (taken just of the foundations) of the new tower at 1 Bishopgate. This was a site originally owned by the Beetham Organisation (responsible for the skyscraper in Manchester that appears on Coronation Street) but they went bust and Berkley Homes bought it and are now about to start soaring upwards to 50 storeys from the foundations that I have snapped. The architect (as their sales adverts never tire of reminding you) is Ian Simpson – also the architect of the Beetham Tower in Manchester
The Tate Modern extension has run into some difficulties (Let’s hope its not another Gaudi Cathedral type of building!) and some additional construction company has been appointed as a project overseer.
I can never resist photographing any of the Peabody estates – and the one in Southwark Street is not going to be an exception.
I have two photos of the former industrial nature of the South Bank. The first at Great Guildford St shows the former Barclay and Fry tin factory. They were one of the companies that developed printing onto metals tins. They were formed in 1867 and in 1922 became one of the founding companies of the Metal Box Co.
The second photo is named Southwark Street 2. The building on the left is the former Kirkaldy Testing and Experimental works – that tested the strengths of materials. It is now a museum – run by volunteers – so if you were to intend to visit the museum, best to check with their website. The building is now Grade II listed.
The former St Thomas Hospital Chapel in Thomas Street is interesting. It was rebuilt in 1703 by Thomas Cartright – in the style of Christopher Wren. It is no longer a church – but used as offices by a Lloyds Broker.
The picture of the Shard shows the entrance to the View from the Shard
The rest are more or less self explanatory and I went on taking them until it got too dark.
The re-development of London will continue at an even faster pace this year. Despite the (serious) problems over the affordability of the new housing, it is architecturally a very exciting time.
I wish you a Happy New Year.