Shoreditch, in East London, is a mix of a place. In this view you see many of the constituents of the mix.
The staircase on the right is “Development House” 56-64 Leonard St. It is boarded up, and adorned with graffiti. It is not, however, empty. I saw several sets of people descend the stairs while I was drawing. It was not at all obvious what they were doing there. I could not tell if they were residents, security guards, architects, property investment professionals or graffiti artists.
There is an unremarked and very lovely statue on the side of Development House. It shows people helping each other climb a steep staircase. I can find out nothing about it. It’s an inspiring image. I hope it doesn’t get scrapped when the site is re-developed.*
The glorious brick wall on the left of the drawing is the back of a warehouse at 62/72 Tabernacle Street. It looks as though it might still be a warehouse, since the signboard at the front says “EMA Textiles”, and cardboard boxes are stacked behind the windows. Next to it, further left out of the picture, is 52-60 Tabernacle Street, which is also a warehouse, but that one has been renovated and all the brick is marvellously repointed and neat: “warehouse space to lease” says the notice.
The red brick building is on the opposite side of Tabernacle Street. It is “McQueen” which is a night club and bar. The gap between Development House and the nightclub is what looks like an old bomb site. It is now a car park, and is a sunken area, with remnants of walls, and buddlia bushes. It all looks rather provisional, but it’s been like that for years. Sometimes there is a dance venue in the sunken area. I’ve drawn in this area before. See this post: Shoreditch skyline
The modern buildings in the background are “White Collar Factory” on the left, a multiple occupancy office space, and the Bezier Building on the right, with the flagpole or antenna. It doesn’t look like a flagpole.
The ecclesiastical building in the centre is part of the Central Foundation Boys School, a state school.
I drew this picture standing up overlooking the litter strewn area by Development House. While I was drawing, a horn bleeped. A car drew up, running its engine. The bleep had come from a motorbike behind the car. I saw to my astonishment that the back of the car was connected to the motorbike by a strap. The car was trying to tow the motorbike. This was obviously not working out well. They had stopped to reconsider. The motorcyclist dismounted and removed his helmet. Manoeuvring followed. I returned to my drawing. They tried this twice more before giving up.
When I’d finished the pen and ink I crossed the road to a little restaurant with wooden slatted tables outside. I gestured to the table, and smiled at two people of asian appearance behind the window. They nodded and smiled and continued their dialogue with the mobile phone screen. I sat down and got out my watercolours. Before long, a smiling person appeared and asked what I wanted. I said tea. She said “Bubble tea?”. I did not know bubble tea. It was 4pm and I am English so I said “ordinary tea”. This caused her to nod, smile and disappear. She came back with a menu. I pointed to the only tea I recognised, which was “oolong tea”. “With sugar?” she said. I smiled and said no thankyou. I went on with my painting.
What appeared at my table was not what I expected. I was expecting a teapot, or a mug. Steaming. Hot. Fragrant. With a spoon, perhaps. No. What appeared was a bottle. Chilled. “Oolong tea, no sugar,” announced the server, placing the bottle ceremoniously on the table. She smiled. I smiled. She went back inside. I cautiously opened the bottle. It was indeed tea. Cold tea in a bottle. Not what I expected, but pleasant, and plentiful.
The restaurant was “Buy and Bite: Popular Taiwanese Street Food”. A new experience for me. And only a short walk from home. The food looked really good. To try. Another time. Amazing London.
*Redevelopment of “Development House”
Online I found a planning application [Development House, 55-64 Leonard Street, London Borough of Hackney Local planning authority reference: 2017/4694] for demolition and rebuilding on this site, dated 2017. Here’s what the proposed building will look like:
But since the website declares “completion in 2018” and it is now 2019, there may be a subsequent scheme. Here’s an extract from the Allford Hall Monaghan Morris website.
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (architects)
Melvale Holding Ltd with client representative Darmouth Capital
The proposal for the new Development House will replace the tired and almost empty existing building with a new 100,000sqft per nine storey building of office with A1 activities at ground floor that will activate the frontage along Leonard Street and Circus.
Melvale Holding Limited is a company incorporated in Jersey, with a registered office in Jersey which has an address in common with a large number of other registered companies: Equity Trust (Jersey) Limited. “Melvale Group”, which may well be related, describes itself as ” a diversified management, international trade, foreign direct investment and financial advisory consulting organisation and we work for both the Private and Public enterprises and institutions.”. But I am no further on. This Melvale Group has an address in Cobham in Surrey.
Dartmouth (not Darmouth) Capital is based in the City of London. They list “Development House” in their “portfolio”, and say about it, on their website:
The scheme prepared by local architect Waugh Thiselton is for an impressive new office development of circa 90,000 sq ft which will include ancillary retail space at ground floor level. The Shoreditch area is at the heart of the Technology, Media and Telecoms sector and enjoys demand for offices, particularly for unique buildings, and is a market with limited supply.
The scheme by Waugh Thiselton is quite different from the scheme above, and pre-dates it. Here’s their 2016 proposal:
“This nine-storey timber-framed office block will be the tallest engineered timber building in London, and a beacon building for Shoreditch.”
They propose a whole lot of green and environmental ideas. But since the Allford Hall Monaghan Morris proposal is later, then that’s the one we’ll get, most likely. The street which goes back on the left of the building in their drawing is the one where I had my oolong tea, and did my drawing. None of these proposals say what is going to happen to the statue.