Club class

Wednesday 5 April 2017

A select group of architects, designers and other luminaries from the built environment sector gathered at the Corsica Studios club in south east London last week to pose some Pecha Kucha ideas to stem London’s loss of clubs, theatres and bars and stimulate the night-time economy.

Kicking off was Ben Lovett, one of the founding members of Mumford and Sons, who said there were four times as many clubs and music venues in New York as in London. So he has tried to answer opportunities to fill the gap between super clubs and intimate venues by creating Omeara under the arches in Southwark. ‘Overall we’ve been shocked about the reaction’, he said. ‘Come on in and be part of the rebirth of music and nightlife in London’, he said. Sarah Gaventa, meanwhile, director of the Illuminated River Foundation, said her project was about bringing some beauty to London’s underused bridges, thinking about them as architecture and street, public realm rather than infrastructure. The river is ‘an extraordinary beast, and why we have London’ - treating the bridges as public art will help the ebb and flow across the river in a night time economy, and the city perhaps needs a lighting strategy as a whole.

Conran and Partners partner Paul Zara presented his idea to help counter feeling ‘TAT’ – tired all the time; Night Time Architecture Pods or NAPS. These are sleep pods in the city as a ‘contemporary version of the folly’. ‘The only rule is they have to be amazing and beautiful things’, he said. Little retreats in the centre of town. What’s not to like?’.

Other speakers included NextGen speaker Soham De, an urban designer for PDP London Architects, with an idea about enabling a ‘perceptual change’ of London as an outdoor experience by night through creating memorable spaces with ‘sensual richness’. ‘Our nightlife doesn’t have to be indoors, pumped up, and busy all the time’, he said. Francis McCloskey, an architectural assistant at NBBJ and ‘Pecha Kucha virgin’, looked at creating connective tissue and urban nodes in night-time public space around Dalston and the Kingsland Road. ‘Designing public spaces and their connectivity with light for the midnight stroll suggests an opportunity to define a fresh and inclusive night-time design discipline for a dynamic after-dark public domain’, he said. And finally, John McRae, director at Orms showed his scheme for a new 800 capacity venue at St Giles and 280 capacity grassroots music venue at Denmark Street – the famous ‘Tin Pan Alley’. ‘This is about day and night, not just night-time economy’, he said.

David Taylor
New London Quarterly 

Part of the NLA Culture Programme

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