Pecha Kucha: Meanwhile…

Thursday 30 May 2013

Movement Café, Tweet building, Greenwich. Designed by Morag Myerscough for Cathedral Group © Gareth Gardner

Proposal Sketch for Stratford High Street © Assemble

Union Street Urban Orchard © Agnese Sanvito

A strong group of speakers gathered on Wednesday night at Squire and Partners’ St Chad’s Place near King’s Cross to loudly proclaim the virtues of ‘meanwhile’ development.

This was the NLA’s latest Pecha Kucha session, where each of the invited presenters was given just 20 slides and 20 seconds on each slide to make their point – and which broadly sang the praises of the regenerational power of the interim development.

Clive Dutton, in one of his last public appearances for Newham Council, stressed the importance of ‘hailing the meanwhile’ and risk-taking in developments like the Royal Docks and Pleasure Gardens, citing the Rolling Stones. ‘You can’t always get what you want’, he said. ‘But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need’.

The GLA’s Jamie Dean took the audience on a trip around measures being made to invest in some 90 places and high streets, including shops and bathhouses, representing ‘more joy for local people’. And Emma Fawcett, head of design at the LLDC, showed how interim uses were almost the norm in the lower Lea Valley, the Olympics being one of the biggest and most high profile cases, ‘leaving its trace in infrastructure’. There were also presentations from Moira Lascelles at the Architecture Foundation, detailing work at places like Southwark Lido and the Bankside Urban Forest, plus a dual presentation by The Decorators and their food and architecture project, featuring a mechanical, rising table at Ridley Road market. Maria Lisogorskaya from art and architecture collective Assemble showed designs to create a High Line type development for Stratford High Street – ‘really a high street, on the flyover’. Cany Ash showed her popular work at Canning Town’s Caravanserai community space; Levitt Bernstein’s Georgie Revell the practice’s competition winning garages-to-housing project, which it is now working on with an unnamed London authority, and Morag Myerscough took the audience on a journey of her own work in providing vital, viable and much cherished interim uses. But perhaps one of the most well-received presentations was from JJ Lorraine of Morrow + Lorraine, who presented a series of delightful interventions from around the world, including Thomas Heatherwick spun chair, HawkinsBrown’s Gillett Square in Dalston and even a tomato festival near Valencia in Spain where, once everything is washed down leaves the streets pristine because of the fruit/vegetable’s acidity. But Lorraine lamented the ‘lack of sensitivity’ he feels is being shown on the South Bank, where a planning application has just been submitted by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, but which moves the skateboarders out of the Southbank Centre’s undercroft. ‘Some places would kill to have that culture on their doorsteps’, he said. 

David Taylor, New London Quarterly

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