The Garden museum in London he is organizing an architectural competition to design a pavilion for St Mary’s Gardens, a leafy enclave next to his premises in a reformed church in Lambeth, south London. I am a member of the interview panel. The winner has not been chosen yet, but I can reveal that it will not be a Minecraft builder submission showing a blue-tinted skyscraper taking up the entire garden footprint.
It comes with a justification based on the “very bad” gray squirrel threat to Britain’s ecology: “How do we stop the gray squirrel?[s]? “he asks.” Squirrels eat nuts. Walnuts grow on trees … if we remove trees, we stop gray squirrels, “explains the presentation. So” to remove trees we build a big tower. It will also sell for a lot. money because it is very big. ” Finish off with a bite to anyone who may be concerned about the loss of green space: “You can also have a rooftop garden.” It is meant to be a joke and, as I say, it is not going to win. But it deserves some kind of award – as a parody of the false arguments for which towers are allowed to trample British cities, it’s great.
Matter of balance
At the far southern end of Lambeth Township is (for now at least) Central Hill, a municipal estate whose stepped terraces were skillfully and carefully laid out on steep slopes that look towards the center of the capital, in a location close to where once there was the Crystal Palace. The design arranged housing blocks to preserve mature trees and create quiet, informal enclaves. It was completed in 1975, three years before Alexandra Road and Branch Hill, municipal properties in the Camden district that also use tiered decks to create a variety of spaces.
The last two are listed buildings but Historic england it just refused, for the second time, to recommend the Central Hill listing, for reasons that don’t seem to make much sense. The design “was not particularly innovative,” he said in his first refusal, even though it predates the Camden examples. The “level of threat,” he says now, “cannot be determined,” even though Lambeth Township has clearly stated its intention to demolish the property.
One difference between the projects was that Central Hill was – unusually for the time – designed by a woman, Rosemary Stjernstedt. The other two were designed by men. Proponents of the Central Hill listing say that roughly 0.015% of the buildings listed were designed by women, so historic England has just missed an opportunity, however modest, to restore balance. An architectural construction that his decision preserves, it seems, is the glass ceiling.
The Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, on a recent trip to Hungary to extol Viktor Orbán’s regime, took the time to praises the country’s “nice buildings”. In the United States, he said, there is “ugly architecture, brutalist architecture, glass and steel architecture, Mies van der Rohe architecture,” which aims to “dehumanize us.” Dehumanization, he said, is the “act of convincing people that it doesn’t matter.” Perhaps you should speak to your hero, Donald Trump, who built quite a few structures in his career as a real estate developer that, objectively, are made of steel and glass and, subjectively, could be considered ugly. On second thought, maybe not: I’d hate to think what Trump’s idea of ”pretty” would be.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism