SE1 - London Bridge, Waterloo, Blackfriars Road & Elephant and Castle - 10/12/2013
The next phase of development in London’s SE1 will seek to bring regeneration from the river deep into its heartlands, with Blackfriars Road and Elephant & Castle a particular focus. But the redevelopment of Elizabeth House and Shell Centre are ‘vital’ and undersupplied sectors such as workplace need to be addressed if the wider area is to become a truly mixed use neighbourhood.
The views emerged from a wide-ranging conference held at the Southbank centre last week, itself a key area of change as speakers Jude Kelly and FCB Studio’s Ian Taylor detailed the way its masterplan will attempt to lift its accessibility and attractions but keep it a cultural centre for the people. ‘We want to keep our buildings but also extend their remit’, said Kelly.
Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning Cllr Fiona Colley said there had been ‘tremendous change’ in the area, with projects such as the reworking of London Bridge Station – now under construction – set to unlock a 45% increase in capacity. But equally important to the area is the prospective renewal of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre since it passed into Delancey and APG’s hands last week, and a reworking of the roundabout to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. ‘Elephant & Castle was the elephant in the room’, she said.
Lend Lease development director Rob Heasman said it was the developer’s vision to establish E&C as one of London’s ‘most flourishing urban quarters’, including the redevelopment of the Heygate Estate and planting of over 400 trees. ‘One thing is for sure’, he said, ‘the Elephant is happening.’ Indeed, Transport for London head of capital development Nigel Hardy said that the area was used as a launch location and exemplar scheme as part of the Roads Taskforce – as it is, the roundabout has a very high collision rate, with 49% of incidents involving cyclists. The new plan proposes a ‘peninsularisation’ of the roundabout, opening up dead space in its centre and connecting it into a ‘significant open space.’
The Blackfriars Road is also the subject of a new plan for cyclists, especially since 46% of the morning traffic is now a bike – one every two seconds. Hardy showed a scheme with a segregated cycleway on the western side of the road, which Southwark’s Steve Platts said is part of the ‘Blackfriars Mile’ plan to ‘zip together opportunity areas.’ Over 18 developments are planned on the road, including the development of Ludgate House and Sampson House into nine buildings at its northern end shown by PLP Architecture partner Bernard Storch. Meanwhile, the Tate Modern extension will help to bring the focus and more regeneration away from the river, with better accessibility to the south of the building and beyond, said Allies and Morrison’s Graham Morrison.
Other key projects to come in the area include the tackling of the Imax roundabout, said Lambeth’s assistant director for strategic and neighbourhood investment Sarah Roebuck, along with the Thomas Heatherwick- designed Garden Bridge from Temple to east of the Southbank Centre. Farebrother partner and head of leasing, sales and development Julian Hind said £2.1bn had been invested in the area over the last five years but that second hand Grade A space was ‘pitifully undersupplied’ and really what the market needs, and it was ‘absolutely appalling’ that other areas had attempted to stop the Shell Centre and Elizabeth House schemes coming through.
This was also a theme picked up by David Joyce, assistant director of planning and development planning, who stressed the - as he saw it - unreported public space elements of the scheme. Elizabeth House was a ‘vital site for us’, right in the heart of Waterloo, which will unlock 8,000 new jobs and 150 new homes. ‘If we don’t get this scheme coming forward we won’t reap benefits and still have the barrier that is Waterloo station.’
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
News release - Don't Move, Improve! 2013, Londonʼs best new home and small office extensions announced at NLA - 6/12/2013
A 2.3m-wide house in Clapham, a converted warehouse in Bermondsey, a garden pavilion in St John’s Wood and a rooftop office in King’s Cross have been announced as overall winners of NLAʼs fourth ʻDonʼt Move, Improve!ʼ competition to find Londonʼs best and most innovative new home and small office extensions.
The winners were selected from a total of 46 shortlisted schemes, all of which are now on display in a free NLA exhibition at The Building Centre, WC1 until 6 February 2014.
The NLA competition, supported by the British Institute of Interior Design, Heal’s and RIBA London, sought to find the best-designed and most innovative solutions for creating more space in homes and small offices across London. Winners were selected for demonstrating innovation and creativity in the creation of new space; high quality design; and sustainable and cost-effective approaches to project delivery.
Overall winner in the home extension category – Slim House, designed by architects Alma-nac - Collaborative Architecture – was praised by the jury for its clever use of space in refurbishing and elongating a narrow 2.3m house in Clapham, drawing light deep into the centre of the plan on a tight budget. Runner up was awarded to Hampstead Beach House, designed by Hayhurst and Co, which extends a pair of Victorian maisonettes with white-stained larch cladding wrapped around the interior and exterior spaces. Commendation was awarded to Platform 5 architects for Book Tower House, which introduces an innovative double-height library around a new feature staircase.
In the interior design category overall winner was awarded to Bermondsey Warehouse Loft, designed by FORM design architecture, which fully reconfigures an open-plan loft apartment to create flexible spaces for dining, relaxing and exercise. Charlie, Mark & Orlando’s Basement in Islington by Zminkowska De Boise Architects was awarded runner up, and Bonhôte House in Dalston by AOC Architecture was given a special commendation.
Two projects were awarded joint winners of the small office extension or refurbishment category – Shoffice, a garden pavilion containing a small office behind a 1950s terraced house in St John’s Wood designed by Platform 5 architects, and 251 Pentonville Road, a mirrored glasstop pavilion in King’s Cross designed by HÛT.
Peter Murray, chairman of the jury, commented: “This is a splendid selection of well-designed additions and improvements to London's building stock. It reflects the quality and creativity of smaller architectural practices in the capital.”
The range of projects provide inspiration for homeowners and small businesses looking to create more space in their homes and offices at a variety of budgets.
Working for the Great Estates - 3/12/2013
Three leading architects were at the NLA this morning to show how projects they are designing are all beneficiaries of the Great Estates’ long-termist philosophy and the way that lends itself to effective placemaking.
Paul Davis, founder of Paul Davis + Partners, took a packed audience on a whistle-stop tour of his proposals to rebuild the Chelsea Cinema, a project which includes a skybar, reworked affordable housing and at ground floor a ‘framework for interesting retail rather than something that is a bit bland’.
Davis said that Great Estates like his client Cadogan had proved that they were able to think long-term thanks in part to their being run by trustees rather than shareholder, allowing them to be custodians of London’s ‘villages’. In Cadogan’s case that was in evidence with projects like Cadogan Hall refurbishment for the Royal Philharmonic or revitalisation of the Duke of York’s site, which had created ‘breathing space’ for shoppers, away from the linear streets.
David Walker, associate at Bennetts Associates Architects, said that his project – Marble Arch House on the Portman Estate – was commissioned as a gateway building for the whole estate and features a distinctive brise soleil with louvered panels. Taken on by developer British Land, the scheme also showed an admirable commitment to flexibility and long-term thinking. ‘The Portman Estate do take a longer view about how the building is constructed’, he said. ‘We increased the structure so that they can add another floor if they want to in 50 years’ time’.
Finally, Mike Stiff, director of Stiff + Trevillion, said that his offices and retail project at 127-135 Sloane Street included the creation of new public space at the rear of the red Scottish sandstone building, which is articulated with chamfered bays. An unusual and sustainable step inside is the inclusion of plant serving each floor so that the responsibility for maintenance falls back onto the tenant.
So how is it different working for an estate? ‘They recognise the importance that the building has to its surroundings and their portfolio’, said Stiff. ‘They’re looking at a 100-year plan, not a get-it-up-and-sell-it plan.’
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
How to deal with the legacy of 1960s university buildings - 29/11/2013
A high proportion of the UK’s many 1960s university buildings can be effectively updated as part of a sustainable approach that builds on their qualities of character, good floor-to-ceiling heights and natural light. But some are so riddled with deep-seated problems that they must make way for new, low-energy buildings that make the most of the public realm and have a lifespan of 100 years or more.
Those were some of the key points to emerge from a breakfast talk at the NLA this morning run in conjunction with Nicholas Hare Architects.
LSE director of estates Julian Robinson said that until the last 10 years his institution in Aldwych had had a ‘very unremarkable estate’. But since a revised estates strategy in 2010 the LSE has spent over £200m, with £400m more to come as an investment over the next 10 years. Part of that new generation of the estate is the subject of a competition won by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) to design its new £90m Global Centre for Social Sciences (GCSS), which includes a new public square in the heart of the campus. ‘We brief that buildings must have a 100 year life’, said Robinson. ‘We want them to be part of LSE’s DNA’. In a sense, though, the scheme adopts a ‘back to basics approach’ in terms of its long, thin blocks and short spans. This principle draws on the best ever post occupation evaluation LSE ever had - a conversion of an existing building where openable windows, controllable ventilation and lots of light were its most commended elements.
Nicholas Hare Architects Partner Carol Lelliott said that with 80 per cent of carbon emissions coming from buildings it was ‘too big a problem to new-build out of’. This was even the case with schemes such as The Arup Building at the University of Cambridge, designed in 1971 by Sir Philip Dowson but described by Pevsner as ‘a drama of violence’. Although a ‘heroic and iconic structure’, it was not much loved, even from day one, and is one of the university’s worst energy performers. But it does have major assets such as an ‘exquisite’ museum in the podium and three levels of ‘potentially terrific flexible space’ and decent ceiling heights. So, with the tenant committed to sustainable values, the architect has provided a new entrance to reconnect the podium, a green ‘laboratory’ and PVs on the roof, along with an emphasis on passive design solutions. ‘We’ve learnt that it is important to spend time thinking about the building and its assets and what it can do well – rather than impose, to go with the flow’, Lelliott said. Reinvention of such schemes is important, she added - there is a vast quantity of 60s university buildings but only 0.18% are listed, ‘so they are not as protected as we think’.
During discussion, DOCOMOMO-UK’s past chair James Dunnett said that it was interesting to note that the Rogers LSE building added public realm, since if the Modern Movement had been about anything, it was about that. He said that it was also gratifying that students were fond of these 60s buildings, suggesting that the tide in perception terms may be turning. London Met University head of estates development William Hunt said that its interventions were at the other end of the scale to that of LSE, but was making slow but sure changes as its student numbers alter, such as a new open access PC area and student lounge. It is also looking to extend the lifespan of its Tower Building on Holloway Road.
The importance of university estates is clearly important, emphasised by Architecture PLB’s Rupert Cook citing of new research which says that one in three students rejects the universities they shortlist after visiting their campuses. The LSE, though was not concerned about distance learning projects, believing that people want to work with their peers and choosing instead to focus on London rather than open campuses abroad and risk diluting the brand. ‘It’s in London because that’s where it’s all happening’, he said.
Delivering homes for an ageing population - 21/11/2013
The UK must change its attitude towards ageing and deliver homes to serve older people so that their accommodation is treated less like a hospital environment and more as an aspirational choice.
That was one of the key messages to emerge from a special half-day conference at the NLA yesterday morning at which key figures in the profession debated how we can best deliver homes for an ageing population, with over 65s set to reach 1.17 million people in London by 2031.
Deputy mayor for housing Richard Blakeway began by saying that the assumption in the era of the Seaside and Country Homes scheme was that when you get older you leave the metropolis. ‘But actually that fundamental assumption was wrong, and we’re really missing so much by having a mindset that the capital should be solely a young city’, he said. And with the prospect of numbers of over 85-year-olds doubling, more of the debate should be about what happens as people age, shifting it away from all the talk of first-time buyers and student accommodation. This could start with more providers taking an interest beyond firms like Berkeley Homes, and perhaps even housing associations, with housing for older people more considered at the heart of regeneration schemes, Blakeway added that such schemes could play a key part in revitalising the town centres of outer London.
David Driscoll, the property and business development director for Audley Retirement, said that on entering the sector he had been shocked by the awful provision and poor space standards that exist for a growing proportion of the older in society, who hold much of the equity. Indeed, he said, 75 per cent of the over 65s own their own home, which is ‘a heck of a lot of equity.’ Although many of the moves people make are predicated on bereavement or for physical reasons, it was not good enough to provide 500 sq ft flats with no washing machines, for example. ‘We have to do more’, he said. ‘Designers, planners, architects and developers need to come up with something and make it somewhere that anyone would want to live.’
The situation contrasts with that in the US, where the abundance of available land makes it easier, but retirement villages offer lessons for the UK in providing facilities that people want, rather than what they have to have. Audley’s own schemes offer community facilities and staff, avoiding the ‘grab handle mentality’ of spaces which remind people only that life is ticking away.
The mayor’s design guide should produce better homes for the over 65s, however, said David Birkbeck, CEO of Design for Homes, especially on the vexed issue of storage – ‘these people have a lifetime of tat.’ But because of the high number of challenges associated with providing facilities, there are few operators. One to watch, though, said Birkbeck, may be Pegasus Life, which has £500 million of investment from Oaktree Capital Management ‘because they have spotted there is this weird gap.’
But another obstacle to negotiate is the image of the ageing population, said Tom Teatum or Teatum and Teatum, who presented some of the findings of the Building Futures report, Silver Linings – the active third age and the city. This looked at new models including the members’ club mansion block as an international cross between a hotel, members club and timeshare. But Teatum added that there is more of a need to talk about desire in the over 65s in order to create an alternative vision to that put across by the advertising industry, for example.
PTEa’s Patrick Devlin said that issues such as space and flexibility in accommodation are crucial, alongside large amounts of daylighting and a connection to the outside world. These perhaps need standards to force architects to calculate the glare and heat loss involved in incorporating large windows, he said. But we must also take on board some of the lessons from Europe, said PRP partner Anne Marie Nicholson, who visited a number of innovative projects as part of the HAPPI report panel. Projects featured high quality materials, balconies, shared balconies and other external spaces, ‘unashamedly modern’ design, good, accessible locations alongside transport interchanges or above other uses such as cafés, and the incorporation of deck access that has inspired a PRP Lewisham scheme. ‘Housing for old people’, she said, ‘doesn’t have to look shocking’.
NLA, supported by the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), Heal’s and RIBA London is once again running Don't Move, Improve! 2013 - a competition, now in its fourth year, to find the best and most innovative home extensions, small office conversions and interior design in London.
The competition seeks to find the best ways to create more space to live and work in London, and is open to architectural practices, interior designers and members of the public who have completed extensions or refurbishment projects in London within the last three years.
Adonis spells out UK’s pressing infrastructure needs - 5/11/2013
The UK government needs to set up an independent commission to cater for the nation’s pressing infrastructural needs and must end the adversarial approach that worsens its short-term attitudes.
So said Lord Adonis at this morning’s Evolving London lecture at the Institute of Civil Engineers, part of a series of talks on the capital run by GVA.
Former transport secretary Lord Adonis said that the only proper vision envisaging how London should grow, with the whole gamut of infrastructural and planning issues that faced the city, was the Abercrombie plan of 1944. ‘That was a coherent and serious plan’, said Adonis, ‘and my thesis for this morning is that we haven’t had one since.’
Faced with a population that is projected to grow to 10 million by 2030 – London’s highest population ever – the capital needs crucial decisions made quickly on High Speed Two, Crossrail 2 and airport capacity, he said; radical improvements rather than the usual approach of seeking to marginally improve the status quo.
Adonis said we are ‘ducking completely’ what our long-term rail strategy should be, and that HS2 – which he was the chief proponent of under Labour – will solve a ‘capacity crisis. The line will link our five largest conurbations together in the process, and be preferable to spending billions on line upgrades which will not produce as many economic or capacity benefits. The UK needed to catch up with other countries such as Spain and France in embracing high-speed rail. ‘It’s the classic short term versus long-term view’, he said. ‘Patch and mend or think strategically.’ It is perfectly possible that politics could engulf HS2 but the problem will not go away, he added. Setting up an independent national infrastructure commission would improve a situation where governments make judgments in the national interest but which are always liable to be seen as partisan.
Crossrail 2 will similarly help reduce serious congestion north-south, whilst serving key regeneration areas such as the upper Lea Valley. And on aviation, Adonis said that a consensus should be built around the eventual recommendations from the Howard Davies report, or else London risks falling further behind other international airports and again losing economic benefits. The hub airport expansion scenario at Heathrow was perhaps more likely than building a new facility in the Thames Estuary, with all the associated infrastructure and transition problems in closing Heathrow that that would entail. But one of the most ‘chronic’ shortfalls facing London is the relatively few river crossings to the east of Tower Bridge. A new version of the Thames Gateway Bridge must be created and a decision made on other new Thames Crossings which could be funded by tolls.
But schemes like HS2 are prey to a deeply adversarial culture within government and a deeply risk-averse attitude within Treasury to publicly funded infrastructure, heightened by a project-by-project approach. ‘We don’t have to choose between HS2 and Crossrail 2’, said Adonis. ‘It is actually possible as a country to do all of these things together.’
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
NY-LON Simultaneous Seminars #4: Historic Preservation and City Renewal - 25/10/2013
London and New York are both seeking to delicately balance the forces of preservation and creative change as schemes such as the redevelopment of Smithfield Market and Park Avenue edge closer.
The principle emerged during the latest NY-LON session staged at KPF’s offices in central London and run by the NLA, which focused on historic preservation and city renewal on both sides of the Atlantic.
English Heritage’s national planning and conservation director Chris Smith said that London was a key exponent of constructive conservation, with schemes such as St Pancras and at King’s Cross embodying that spirit. Stanton Williams director Paul Williams said that his practice’s University of the Arts scheme for Central St Martins, for example, showed the importance of being ‘the first person on the block’ in catalysing a wider regeneration project that now also lists Google and the Aga Khan building as future tenants of King’s Cross Central. The scheme – ‘an arena for student life’ was also a ‘hugely ambitious and brave undertaking by the university and staff’, where Stanton Williams left ‘nearly all the architectural scars’ in the building, rather than fall into the common trap of ‘overworking’ heritage fabric. ‘Fundamentally, you have to understand the limitations of an existing building as well as its potential’, said Williams. Andrew Cleary, Director at KPF in New York, said that public uses are important to distinctiveness, with superior design being one of the criteria to get permits, but important buildings such as Grand Central are ‘hidden’ with ‘no mechanism to enhance, celebrate and activate it more.’ Laurie Beckelman, former chair of the NYC Landmarks Preservation, said that historic buildings make a major contribution to the city: ‘preservation is connected to the economic engine of the city’, she said.
At Smithfield, said Smith, the hope was to achieve something of the successful re-use employed at Covent Garden, while the new, ‘not as damaging’ proposed scheme will be tested at public inquiry after EH opposed the initial Smithfield designs. ‘We’re looking to support the mayor and his view of the future embodying the best of control as we embrace the best of creative change’, he said.
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
Lessons from the Great Estates - 24/10/2013
The Great Estates are London’s most attractive places in which to live and work, thanks to their careful ‘curation’ and the ‘enlightened self-interest’ driving their long-term involvement.
The contention emerged at this morning’s special seminar at the NLA on ‘long-termism and sustainability’, intended to tease out some of the lessons London’s older estates could teach the new.
Chairman of Get Living London Stuart Corbyn ran through some of the history of London’s estates and leasehold reforms, right up to the transformations of places like Regent Street and Marylebone High Street via a new attention being paid to the public realm, and through adapting to changing circumstances. ‘At the end of the day, it comes down to patience’, he said. The Qataris at East Village share that long-term approach, he added, even if they do not take as active a role as their UK family counterparts.
Corbyn’s successor at Cadogan, chief executive Hugh Seaborn, said that if everything was stripped away his was a property company with a gross value of £4billion in a mixture predominantly of retail and residential. ‘We own a lot of property – 93 acres – in one place’, he said. ‘But it’s not just a big holding – it’s about being embedded in the area.’ The estate has been in existence for some 300 years in private family ownership, and the Cadogan family still has homes in the area today, with the estate concentrating on a broad, effective stewardship including cinemas, bars, music halls, restaurants and shops, as well as housing. ‘The benefits of this approach are legion. It’s a lot to do with self-interest, but it is also recognition of impact and responsibility’, said Seaborn. If Cadogan gets the stewardship right, he added, the finance and the rest of the business should follow.
The conference also heard from the self-branded ‘Johnny-come-latelys’ Argent, whose partner Robert Evans detailed the steps taken behind creating an estate that is ‘professional’ but not corporate in tone at King’s Cross, working with heritage and forging a new place based on streets and squares. Capco investment director Gary Yardley showed the developer’s moves to transform Covent Garden including via new residential being sold predominantly to UK buyers, and Earls Court, its plan to create a series of ‘villages’ to a masterplan by Terry Farrell. And Allies and Morrison’s Jason Syrett showed how a series of masterplans for Wood Wharf had been superceded by one designed by his own practice, which aims to move away from the Canary Wharf model with more connections to its surroundings and an integrated social structure, plus buildings designed by A&M, Herzog and de Meuron and Stanton Williams.
There was also time for a look at Shaftesbury’s cultural strategies, informed by the work of Futurecity founder and director Mark Davy, especially in the transformation and ‘cultural branding’ of Carnaby Street; an analysis of Soho Estates by its managing director John James and the balance it must strike through upgrading areas like Walkers Court between heritage, the planners, and progress; and Grosvenor’s Nigel Hughes’ drive towards greening the estate’s buildings. Finally there was Claire Bennie from Peabody (‘I’m an interloper here – I’m female’), who said the housing group was faced with pressures to adapt its stock with environmental measures and for ageing tenants, requests from residents for better public space, and constant pressures – which it resists – for Peabody to dispense with some of its valuable stock for reinvestment elsewhere.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
The NLA conference Lessons from the Great Estates was sponsored by Cluttons, Futurecity and Savills
NLA Sounding Board - 23/10/2013
The New London Sounding Board gathered last week to grapple with issues as diverse as the Thames Gateway; the future for London’s High Streets; and the vision for the capital up to 2020 and beyond.
Centre for London director Ben Rogers presented the first paper on the Thames Gateway, which he said was an area seemingly with no budget, no staff and no public face behind it. Even a Google search had drawn a blank on a minister with responsibility for the area, and in the short to medium term, many Gateway housing sites were ‘stuck’ and with little chance of being unblocked. It is crucial to get the governance of the area right, with the kind of entrepreneurial, can-do spirit that characterised the London Docklands Development Corporation. Discussion ranged from making more of the Gateway’s chief asset – open space, capitalising on the area’s new port, the landscape, its potential as a locale for London’s overspill housing, changing its very name, the fragmented nature of organisations involved, and steering the zone away from how it was branded by Jonathan Glancey – as the Cockney Siberia.
The Future for London’s High Streets discussion was introduced by Jackie Sadek, who is working with ‘retail veteran’ Bill Grimsey on a review, whose key line is that anyone looking at a future for the high streets predicated on retail alone is ‘buggered from the outset’. ‘Anything other than being a local economic hub is missing the point’, said Sadek. The group has come up with 31 recommendations as opposed to 29 in Mary Portas’ review, with a 25-year business plan for town centres, pushing education, residential health and other uses. Alongside case studies on Nottingham and London one idea was that national retailers should have to resource the renewal of thigh streets. ‘We’re trying to instil in these places that they have to work out their USP and sell that in’, she said. ‘Sustainable places are ones where people live and work in the same place.’
One observation on a positive measure for the high street came from Pocket director Marc Vlessing, who reported that in Holland, high street retailing was up, year-on-year, largely because of the bicycle, the safety and ease of cycling there making ‘all the difference’. This was backed up by Pat Brown from Central, who said that in New York retailers had reported sales up 300 per cent in areas near cycling zones.
The last presenter was no lesser name. Deputy mayor Eddie Lister took the Sounding Board through London’s ‘best year for tourism ever’, thanks to the Olympics, something which presented a great opportunity to get investment in and create regeneration projects. ‘I would suggest we have a window when we can attract quite a lot of finance into London’, he said. London needs to ‘innovate and change’ to cope with the extra million and a half people it expects by 2030, and part of that is the necessity for Crossrail 2, road upgrades – even potentially tunnelling the Hammersmith flyover – and new bridges to the east. But there is a ‘real pressure point’ on housing, with the target of 32,000 per year actually being only 27,000 in a good year. ‘We’re talking about closer to 50,000 housing units a year needed in London.’ Local authorities need more flexibility to borrow, and London needs to be given more control over the money it raises for investment, as well as greater consistency of funding that allows it to borrow. But some local authority planning departments have become ‘dysfunctional’, and there have been disagreements with a number of boroughs on their definitions of affordable housing. On opportunity areas, Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea is showing the way forward, not least in the TIF funding mechanism that has brought the Northern Line extension. ‘That’s the model we have to use in the future’.
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
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