This month, I made a very conscious effort to fill my diary with architecturally related events. It was sparked by last month’s Open House London where I had the chance to visit three residential projects in the borough of Southwark. The three projects were the new housing development on Royal Road by Panter Hudspith Architects, The Courtyard House on Asylum Road by Mos Architects and 15 and a half Consort Road, which has gained notoriety through its appearance on Grand Designs.
I was lucky enough to visit Marseille during the last week, which gave me the opportunity to take a second tour around one of the iconic buildings of the twentieth century, La Cité Radieuse (the radiant city). During my first visit in 2008, I had stayed in the hotel located within the building, which had been sensitively renovated and included pieces of furniture designed by the architect, Le Corbusier.
Completed in 1952, La Cité Radieuse was the first of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation (collective housing). It soon became an emblem for post war brutalist housing blocks around the world. The many ingenious concepts woven into the design of the building resulted in bland brutalist architecture when applied elsewhere indiscriminately of place, culture and climate. Standing at the base of La Cité Radieuse confronted by its scale, materiality, diversification within an overall unity, one recognises that this a building which is anything but bland.
A couple of months ago, I participated in a community led high street regeneration bid to improve our local high street in East Greenwich. The park, the riverside and the market conjure up an idyllic image of Greenwich. And so they should as they are good examples of inviting public spaces that encourage people to stay and spend time. However, beyond the centre and further east lies Trafalgar Road, the main high street and the heart of the East Greenwich community. It is a less inviting place that suffers from traffic congestion, poor air quality and shop fronts that could do with more than a lick of paint. On finding out that the Greater London Authority was opening another round of the Mayor’s High Street Fund, a match funding initiative for high street regeneration projects, the local community of East Greenwich collectively pooled its resources and ideas to prepare a video that would present its vision for how its high street could be made better.