At double the size of New York though more or less the same in terms of population, London is home to an extraordinary amount of abandoned, unused or forgotten places. In fact, every day on my way to PDD, I cycle through a nearby roundabout; an empty area taking up nearly 500 square metres. Places like that often make me wonder how rent in London can be that high, while so many places are essentially empty. I’ve recently discovered that I’m not alone in thinking so.
Later this month, Somerset House will house an exhibition called ‘Forgotten Spaces’, showing proposals for the improvement of overlooked places in London. The show is based on an open idea competition run by RIBA, where architects, students, engineers and artists were invited to submit proposals on how to put to use all these forgotten sites.
And indeed, many places are overlooked or forgotten. Just take a short stroll in the city, especially around Liverpool Street, and you will notice the new fancy glass buildings standing next to what is best described as ruins. It is sad to see how developers and architects overlook the potential of these old beautiful Victorian buildings in their never-ending quest for the novel. I guess they didn’t get the memo that what is next is not necessarily always new.
Like the exhibition at Somerset, Whitechapel Art Gallery is also voicing their opinion on the state of the Capital’s unused architectural potential. Their project, called ‘The Street’, is a programme of artist projects, events and research, all aiming at highlighting the opportunities of showing art – as a collective endeavour – at the many naked murals in East London.
With the first group discussion in a line of events, Whitechapel kicks off the weekend early tonight by inviting the public to the opening of ‘ Reclaim the Mural’. And, as the real weekend is approaching, I might just go East tonight and be inspired to go out there and reclaim some forgotten sites.
Featured image from architecture.com