The lift at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs is at the far end of Kent.

Location of Broadstairs, Kent. Map from openstreetmap

It is a Victorian seaside resort, with a sandy beach, and parks and a bandstand. The beach is below chalk cliffs, and those earnest Victorians provided their citizens with a fine lift to bring people between the sandy beach and the cliff top attractions. I was delighted, and surprised, to find this lift in full working order. While I made the drawing, the lift was used by a continuous stream of people.

The lift at Viking Bay, 17th September 2021, 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The whole time I was drawing, music floated down from above, a series of 1950s and 1960s classics, including Elvis’ rendering of “You were always on my mind”. This seemed somehow very poignant as I sat there in the sun on the sand.

When I finished the drawing, I used those sculptural stairs on the right of the lift to climb up to the top. A young family were waiting at the bottom. One of their number, a lad of about 8, came rolling along the boardwalk in his bright green wheelchair. He expertly negotiated the narrow door to the lift and shot inside. I reached the top as they all emerged, and the lad zoomed off along the smooth tarmac into the labyrinth of parks and bandstands at the higher level.

Access Thanet has protested against the closures of the Viking Bay lift since 2019 (Image Access Thanet)

The citizens of Broadstairs have fought hard to keep their lift open. The lift was declared “permanently closed” earlier this year (2021), and only re-opened after a sustained campaign by local people, notably “Access Thanet” (pictured)

It reopened in July 2021, according to an article in the “Isle of Thanet News”

Margate Wastewater pumping Station

I walked from Margate Railway station to Botany Bay. Out on a headland, I encountered this extraordinary building. Later, I went back to draw it.

Margate Waste Water Pumping Station 16th September 2021 18:30, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You can see – I hope – that my viewpoint was low. I was sitting on the ground by the side of the road. The road is frequented by dog-walkers. I learned something from this low viewpoint: civilised dogs are not used to people sitting on the ground. Many of the dogs were loose, and came rushing up to me, barking in admonition, or alarm, or delight. The owner hurried after, calling in vain after their hound. The dog sat next to me, barking in alarm, or pride, depending on the breed. Either “Danger! Danger! There’s someone sitting on the ground!!” or, if an ancestral hunting dog, “Look, revered owner, what I have cleverly found here on the ground. You must have shot it. It’s my job, I think, to bring it to you?” The owners argued in vain against these inbuilt instincts, and eventually had to drag the dog away from its enemy, or its prey, depending on outlook and breeding.

I went on drawing. A man came by, without a dog. He looked at me, and looked at the building, and looked at my picture. Then he gave a kind of shrug which said “OK, right, I get it, you are drawing the sewage station.”

I replied to this implied comment by saying that it was an interesting building, or rather, I found it interesting. His response was, “1960s Soviet Brutalism without the politics” and I said yes, that put it well.

He said, without breaking his step, “I am good with words”. He said it as a matter of established fact, not a brag, not a hope, nothing sheepish or apologetic, just a description. I silently wondered if I should have recognised him: was this a well-known playwright, a poet, a newspaper columnist? He stopped for a moment. “But just with words,” he continued, with a gesture towards my painting equipment, “Not with a paintbrush.” He paused, to make sure I’d heard. Once his words had reached me across the still air of the road between us, he declared, “I’ll leave you to it!” and he strode off, leaving me puzzling. I think I’d just heard a compliment, but I wasn’t quite sure.

When I walked along this road in the daytime, I saw that there were a large number (about 8) of contractors’ vans and lorries parked outside the pumping station. The blue/grey rectangle in front of the pumping station is some kind of portakabin or works area.

I found out later that this pumping station had failed during the summer (2021), and let sewage into the sea, rendering local beaches useable. Southern Water issued an apology which said, amongst other things:

“Wastewater releases at times of heavy rainfall happen across the UK to protect properties from flooding. The release that happened overnight on 16 June was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and lightning strike during the storms which caused a short power failure and affected systems on site at our Margate Water Pumping Station. Back-up generators are in place. As part of our preparations for the predicted thunderstorms and heavy rainfall we also had a team standing by in the area. These additional precautionary measures meant we were able to immediately begin work restoring the site to full operation. Unfortunately, we had to make this emergency release to protect local homes and businesses from internal flooding.”

A big notice on the pumping station said: “Margate and Broadstairs Resilience Phase 2, upgrade and improvements”. It seems as though improvements are much needed. I can start to understand how local people might have been a bit surprised that I was drawing this pumping station, cause of a recent local disaster.

Guildhall Yard, London EC2

Here is the North West corner of the Guildhall Yard. The modern part is designed by Richard Gilbert Scott (note 1). What we are looking at, in pale concrete, is the Guildhall Library, and offices of the City of London Corporation. Behind it, you see the tops of the buildings on Wood Street.

In yellow stone, on the right of the drawing, is the old Guildhall, built in 1411 (note 2).

In the foreground you see the chairs, generously provided in the Guildhall Yard by the City of London, for public use. I commandeered a chair and a table and set myself up in a nice shady position next to the South East wall of the yard, between two gigantic plant pots.

Guildhall Yard, North West corner. 7th Sept 2021, 7″x10″ in Sketchbook 10

While I was drawing, someone took up residence the other side of the gigantic plant pot, and started a long and fascinating conversation on their phone. They were a recruitment agent, and embarked on a forceful sales pitch to a potential recruit. They were recruiting on behalf of a large bank in the City. They described the proposed future restructuring of said bank, and the nature of the forthcoming vacancy that was to be filled. They named the bank, which I will not do here. They aired details of the potential salary and work locations. After completing this gripping conversation, they immediately called a work colleague and gave an alarmingly candid opinion on the potential recruit they’d just been talking to. If you are thinking of having a conversation of this nature, the Guildhall Yard is perhaps not the most discrete place to choose!

At 3:45pm precisely, workers arrived and removed the chairs. I completed my drawing sitting on the flagstones.

This drawing took about 1½ hours, sketched and coloured on location. The main colours are Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Transparent Brown Oxide, with some Perylene Maroon to make the greys. The chairs are Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

The screens, shown white in my drawing, advertise a performance of dance entitled “Black Victorians”, which is part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

Note 1: The obituary of Richard Gilbert Scott refers to his work on the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Guildhall West Wing. It is here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/12/richard-gilbert-scott-obituary

Note 2: The original Guildhall building has a long history, and has been rebuilt and enhanced several times, most recently after bomb damage in the 1939-45 conflict. Its original completion date of 1411 is quoted in this article from 1848: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1/pp383-396

I’ve sketched around the Guildhall often. Also I’ve sketched 65 Basinghall Street, which is another design by Richard Giles Scott.

Guildhall North Wing

From the site of the former St Mary Aldermanbury, I looked across towards the Guildhall, the offices of the City of London. It is dark and green in the former Nave of the church, whose pillars you can see on the right.…

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Guildhall from St Mary Aldermanbury EC2

At the junction of Love Lane and Aldermanbury in the City of London, there is a small park. If you are in the area, it’s well worth a visit. The parklet is on the site of St Mary Aldermanbury. A large marble…

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Gaslight in Guildhall Yard

The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the plaza

In a previous post I presented a drawing of 65 Basinghall Street done from the bridge which is on the North side of the building. Here is the south side. 65 Basinghall Street is the building in front, with the scalloped arches.…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the bridge

This is a view from the bridge over Basinghall Street, looking at the back of 65 Basinghall Street. There is much of interest in this view. There are the wonderful arching shell-like structures of 65 Basinghall Street. This was built in 1966-7…

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Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic.

Colechurch House SE1, 18th May 2021, 12:30pm. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but it meant I had my back to the passers-by on the pavement, which made me nervous. I strapped my rucksack to the railing and worked quickly. My drawing makes the building look a little precarious, perhaps that reflects my own nervousness standing in the wind on London Bridge, or perhaps it reflects the nervousness of the building as it awaits imminent demolition.

Here is work in progress. I completed the pen-and-ink on location and the colour at my desk.

Colechurch House was completed in the late 1960s* to the designs of E G Chandler. Pre-pandemic, the area under the building at podium level contained a tidal flow of commuters walking between London Bridge Station and the City of London. The City of London Corporation entity known as “Bridge House Estates” owns the freehold. The site is in the London Borough of Southwark (called “LBS” in the press release below). The planning application is GLA reference 2020/6867/S1 and has been approved. Here’s the plan, according to the summary in the planning application:

“Redevelopment of the site to include demolition of Colechurch House, pedestrian footbridge and walkway and erection of an elevated 22-storey building (+ 4-storey basement) above a public park and providing office floorspace, retail floorspace, restaurant/café floorspace, leisure floorspace (all Use Class E), theatre and a bar (Sui Generis), delivered alongside public realm improvements, roof gardens, cycle parking, servicing, refuse, plant areas and other associated works incidental to the development.”

Here’s a press release from the City of London last year, announcing the development.

*Completion date “late 1960s” according to https://colechurchhouse.com/site, the website of the new development. It also says “It is named after Peter of Colechurch who designed the first stone bridge across the Thames here.”

City Place House

An email from an ever-vigilant neighbour alerted me to the Planning Application for City Place House and the adjacent tower, City Tower. This application is currently under consideration. I hastened to go and have a look at the buildings, before they get swathed in white plastic.

City Tower has been there since 1967. It is going to have its lower floors redeveloped but will remain standing. However the more recent City Place House, completed in 1992, is going to be demolished and replaced.

City Place House is a post-modern block of 10 storeys, 8 above ground. It currently houses 1750 workers in 176 600 sq ft. It is going to be replaced by a higher and wider building, which will more than double the capacity, housing 4000 workers in 320 000 sq ft, by more efficient servicing. This is according to the planning application: 21/00116/FULMAJ, “Statement of Community Involvement”. My neighbour comments, “The City’s unerring confidence that numbers of office workers will rebound back to and then exceed previous levels continues to amaze and baffle me given the growing pile of evidence to the contrary. However, that may just be me…”. I have to agree.

Here is what it looks like now:

City Place House from the podium level near the former “Jamies” restaurant. The building to the right, wrapped in plastic, is Brewers Hall.

Here’s a map, also from the planning application. London Wall Place is the building on the left hand side of my drawing.

The line of sight of my drawing is shown by the blue arrow.

City Tower is in the background of my drawing, It is interesting because it is one of the last two towers in a grand design. The other tower still standing is Bastion House. The post war development plan had six towers along London Wall:

“In 1954, frustrated at the contemporary efforts of largely piecemeal reconstruction, a group calling itself ‘The New Barbican Committee,’ headed by architect Sergei Kadleigh, unveiled a plan of comprehensive redevelopment on the long derelict site north of St Paul’s. The scheme proposed a vast network of interlocking hexagonal structures of towers and decks over the 40-acre site owned by the City Corporation. This utopian mega structure proved hugely influential and by 1955 a collaborative scheme of comprehensive redevelopment was unveiled by the City’s head of planning H.A. Mealand and the LCC’s Leslie Martin.”

“Six towers of identical proportion, sit at equal distance from one another at 45 degrees to the street on a raised pedestrian deck with lower slab blocks at right angles. It was a monumental scheme and owed much to Le Corbusier’s 1933 ‘La Ville Radieuse’ in its geometric vision. It was characterised by generous public spaces and the complete segregation of traffic and pedestrian flows of circulation. It was anticipated that these ‘ped-ways,’ would eventually be expanded to provide a City-wide network.” (SOURCE: ©2007 www.postwarbuildings.com)

The six towers, their original names, and their fates1:

LONDON WALL (NORTH-SIDE, WEST TO EAST)  

Bastion House, 140 London Wall, EC2 1976: Completed. Still standing: Now known as 140 London Wall.  

Lee House, 125 London Wall, EC2: 1962: Completed. 1988-92: Replaced by Alban Gate. Now known as 125 London Wall.  

St Alphage House, 2 Fore Street, EC2: 1962: Redeveloped as 1 and 2 London Wall Place

Moor House, 120 London Wall, EC2: 1961: Completed. 2002-05: Demolished in 2001 and replaced by a new Moor House.  

LONDON WALL (SOUTH-SIDE, WEST TO EAST)  

Royex House, 5 Aldermanbury Square, EC2: 1962: Completed. Replaced in 2008 by 5 Aldermanbury Square, EC2.  

Britannic House, 40 Basinghall Street, EC2: 1964: Completed. Still standing: Refurbished as City Tower in 1990.

The building which will replace City Place House will look like this. These are drawings from the planning application. City Tower is in the background, its shape is unchanged from now. There will be a new bridge across Basinghall Street. Demolition is due to start soon: 2022. The highwalk route will be out of service until 2025.

1Additional information from https://www.skyscrapercity.com/threads/various-london-wall.239763/page-17#post-12963051

Willoughby House, Barbican EC2

A client asked for two pictures. The first was of CityPoint. Here is the second, Willoughby House.

Willoughby House from the highwalk by Andrewes. 9″ x 12″ [original SOLD]

This is a view from the public highwalk under Andrewes House. You see the waterfall into the Barbican Lake, and Speed Garden in the background. That marvellous tree is a feature of Speed Garden. It has white bark.

Willoughby House is a terrace block in the Barbican. The multi-storey flats inside have interesting intersecting shapes, and long views across the water. It was completed in 1971.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

On the skyline the two towers are the Heron residential tower on the left and CityPoint on the right. City Point predates Willoughby House – it was completed in 1967, although it looked different then. The curved top is a 2000 addition. In the middle is Ropemaker Place. The Heron residential tower replaced the original Chamberlain, Powell and Bon utility building on the same site. This was a brutalist concrete building, matching the Barbican, which housed a Fire Station, registry office, coroners court and mortuary. Milton Court was integral to the Barbican, linked aesthetically and by highwalks. It was destroyed in 2008.

The Heron residential tower which replaced Milton Court was finished in 2013. It is 36 stories and 122 metres high. Its lower floors house the Guildhall School of Music and drama. The upper stories are luxury flats.

CityPoint (1967, refurbished 2000) is office space, with bars and coffee shops at ground level. It is 35 stories and 127 metres high. Ropemaker Place (2009) is 23 stores of office space. It looks smaller because it is further away. It has no bars, no coffee shops, just a straight cliff down to the street.

FloorsHeightContentsDate
Willoughby7 + podiumResidential1971
Citypoint35127mOffice space,
bars at ground level
1967,
and 2000
Ropemaker23127mOffice space2009
Heron36122mGuildhall School
and residential
2013
Fashion shoot

While I was drawing, a fashion shoot arrived. It was a jangling cavalcade of clothes rails, photographic equipment, and a music system on wheels. They set up camp a little way away and starting photographing the scenery, which included me. They turned their attention to the model who placed herself carefully against the concrete wall. Then they upped and went on towards Gilbert Bridge, their music and conversation fading into the perspective lines.

Here is the ink stage. You can compare with the colour by moving the slider.

The colours here are mostly Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon. The red dots are Transparent Pyrrol Orange. There’s a bit of Green Gold in there too. I started this on location and finished it at home.

Citypoint from London Wall Place

Here is CityPoint, seen from the highwalk next to 2 London Wall Place.

Citypoint from London Wall Place. 12″ x 9″ [original SOLD]

On the left is the south side of Willoughby House, Barbican. Down in the street you see the gate which closes Moor Lane at certain times, and also various lamp posts, bollards and a pole holding three CCTV cameras. Beyond that, on the right, is a construction site on top of the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Here is a map and an annotated sketch to identify the buildings.

To draw this, I was standing above street level, on a public walkway next to a new office development, 1 and 2 London Wall Place. This walkway has walls with plants. The plants are doing really well.

As you see from those photos, the walkway was also empty and calm. The security guard came past, once in one direction, and once back. He smiled and greeted me politely. I was also watched by less friendly security: a CCTV camera, right over my head. I wonder what they made of my sketch?

CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker St, London EC2Y 9HT, was originally called “Britannic House”. The original architect was F. Milton Cashmore & Partners. It has 36 floors above ground. The website “www.emporis.com” tells me:

The building was built in 1967 as Brittanic House, a 122m (399ft) headquarters for British Petroleum. An extensive refurbishment, designed by Sheppard Robson International and completed in 2000, increased the floorplates and added height to the top floor. Britannic House was then renamed CityPoint.

Here are some photos of this drawing in progress. I did a preliminary sketch. The perspectives were fiendish. That “WeWork” building on the right has a weird sloping balcony and a strange sort of tilt in its orientation.

This drawing was a commission. It is the first of two. The next one will show Willoughby House.

Guildhall North Wing

From the site of the former St Mary Aldermanbury, I looked across towards the Guildhall, the offices of the City of London.

Guildhall North Wing, 7″ x 10″, in Sketchbook 9. 19 March 2021

It is dark and green in the former Nave of the church, whose pillars you can see on the right. The stones are covered in moss, which is almost phosphorescent.

The North Wing of the Guildhall was designed by Giles Gilbert-Scott2 in the 1930s and built in the 1950s. He also designed the red telephone kiosks, Battersea Power Station and Cambridge University Library.

The North Wing, and the area to the North of it, were redeveloped in the period 2002 – 2016 at a total cost of £112.6M1 . The architects were TP Bennett. They comment on their website:

The street entrance was lowered to give step-free access from the lowered landscaped piazza, and the two confusing entry points were replaced by one entrance anchored by a lively reception area, now the main business hub for the City of London.
Internally, cellular offices and gloomy corridors – unchanged since the 1950s – were refitted to offer more open-plan accommodation and social space, as well as extra accommodation at rooftop level. The familiar front entrance façade was retained but the internal elevation facing the Great Hall was removed and the building extended, re-glazed and given scenic lifts, offering good views over a landscaped courtyard and the Great Hall itself. Enhancing the City’s new agenda of openness and accessibility, the North Wing’s refurbishment has invigorated the Guildhall campus.

The area North of the Guildhall is flat and has a variety of obstacles and inclines, which make it an ideal venue for skateboarders.

I have described the site of St Mary Aldermanbury in a previous post. Here are maps:

In the corner of the site, where Aldermanbury meets Love Lane, there is a drinking fountain. Miraculously, this one still has the drinking cup on a chain. There is, however, no water.

The inscription is worn and hard to decipher. I could make out this:

"November 1890
The Gift of Robert ROGERSESO(N?)
Deputy of the Ward of the Parish of 
S Mary Aldermanbury"

This drawing took about 45minutes on location and half an hour finishing off at my desk. The colours are Green Gold (DS), Green Apatite Genuine (DS) Burnt Umber (Jacksons), Prussian Blue (DS), Permanent Yellow Deep (DS) and Perylene Maroon (DS). Here are pictures of work in progress:

Here in another drawing in the area:

NOTES

1 Guildhall redevelopment 2002-2016

These dates and the cost of £112.6M are from a paper dated 21st April 2016, a concluding report of the Guildhall Improvement Committee. The paper was on this link: https://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s63283/ITEM%2021%20-%20GIC%20-%20Closure.pdf

It can be downloaded from that link, or if not available there, try this link:

2 Giles Gilbert-Scott

Giles is the third in a line of architects. His son Richard followed him into the profession. From father to son here is the line:

  • George Gilbert-Scott (1811-78) – Albert Memorial, Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
  • George Gilbert-Scott Junior (1839-1897)- St Agnes Kennington, [In 1884, he was declared ‘of unsound mind’]
  • Giles Gilbert-Scott (1880-1960) – Guildhall North Wing, Battersea Power Station, Telephone Kiosk, LMH Chapel, Bankside Power Station (=Tate Modern), Cambridge University Library, Cropthorne Court (Maida Vale)
  • Richard Gilbert-Scott (1923-2017) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library

Giles Gilbert-Scott’s brother, Adrian Gilbert-Scott (1882-1963), was also an architect. He designed St Joseph’s Catholic Church in the Lansbury Estate in Poplar, East London.

Guildhall from St Mary Aldermanbury EC2

At the junction of Love Lane and Aldermanbury in the City of London, there is a small park. If you are in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

The parklet is on the site of St Mary Aldermanbury. A large marble plaque tells the history.

Site of the Church of St Mary Aldermanbury 
First mentioned in 1181. Destroyed by the  Great Fire in 1666. Rebuilt by Wren. 
Destroyed by bombing in 1940. The remaining 
fabric removed to Westminster College, Fulton, 
Missouri, USA 1966 and restored as a memorial 
to Sir Winston Churchill. 
This plaque placed by Westminster College.

The plaque has a picture of the restored church:

Picture in the plaque

I sat next to the plaque, under what must have once been the West window. Here is the view, looking South.

Guildhall West Wing, seen from St Mary Aldermanbury, 7″ x 9″ in Sketchbook 9. 17 March 2021

In the foreground of the picture you see ancient stones, which look like the bases of the pillars of the Nave. Evidently not quite all of the church was exported to Fulton, Missouri.

The two flowering trees are magnolia, currently in bud. Between them, on that raised garden, is a bust of Shakespeare, and a memorial to two actors who published Shakespeare’s First Folio.

To the Memory of  
John Heminge and Henry Condell Fellow Actors 
and Personal Friends 
of Shakespeare 
They lived many years in this  parish and are buried here 
--- 
To their disinterested affection 
the world owes all 
that it calls Shakespeare 
They alone collected his dramatic writings 
regardless of pecuniary loss 
and without the hope of any profit gave them to the world 
They thus merited  
the gratitude of mankind

Equally interesting is the inscription below this plaque:

“Given to the Nation by Charles Clement Walker Esq. Lilleshall, Old Hall, Shropshire. AD 1896”

Charles Clement Walker (1822-1897) was a benefactor for various memorials in London, according to this post on the marvellous “London Remembers” site. He was a wealthy civil engineer, employing 400 people in Shropshire.

Near this monument is a tile let into the low wall:

The Aldermanbury 
Conduit
Stood in this street
Providing Free
Water
147-18th Century.

The water for this conduit originally came from the Tyburn river near Bond Street, according to a post in LostCityofLondon.co.uk.

There is much of interest in this small space. Across the road is 10 Aldermanbury. This was built in 2000, by Legal and General as an HQ office for a broker called Flemings. It is now a multi-use office occupied by financial services and consultancy organisations. Do not miss the amazing artwork on the corner. At first I thought it was just a weird artwork. Then I realised it was the building number: 10.

The picture was drawn on location and coloured later. Here is work in progress and maps. I will return to this location, it’s a wonderful tranquil green spot. Recommended.

From Stanley Cohen House

Here is the view from a top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

View from Stanley Cohen House, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9

You can see right across the estate to buildings on the far side of the Goswell Road. That’s Basterfield House on the right, and Crescent House in the middle, with the scalloped roof.

Here are some maps:

“Outdoors Room” arrowed.

In the centre of this drawing is one of the features I particularly admire in the Golden Lane Estate. There is an “outdoors room” at Podium Level integrated into the Leisure Centre. The space feels like a room: it is roughly square and has a roof. On one side are glass windows which overlook the swimming pool, and on the other side the windows look down into the indoors exercise space. I feel sure that the architects in the 1970s anticipated that this outdoors space would be used for Yoga, or Martial Arts, or perhaps storytelling. They might have envisaged yoga mats, bean bags. It seems to me to be so clearly part of the Leisure Centre, that it must have been intended for a group exercise of some sort. It is now well maintained, but not used (as far as I can tell), except as a transit route. I drew a picture from there.

There was also an “outdoor room” on the way to the top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, as well as splendid outdoor walkways with long views out to the west.

“Outdoor Room” on the top floor of Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

This generosity with public, communal and informal spaces seems to me to characterise a certain view of society, in which people would want to meet, improvise, and interact with strangers and neighbours. There is a certain value placed on “empty” and unallocated space: it represents “possibility” offered to residents, who may have better ideas than the architects about how to use their space. This shows humility and humanity in the design. A vacant outdoor room represents an invitation to residents and passers-by: “come in, make of this what you will, do something here”. There is a space in which to pause and breathe. It is very different from the modern developments, such as the Atlas Building or Eagle Point, whose stark vertical walls cut off the Outside from the Inside. Every square inch has an allocated use. The architects have decided in advance which space is to be a “lounge” or a “cinema” or a “gym”. There is no “empty” communal space. The designers have decided in advance what you will do here.

I applaud the empty spaces and white-walled “outdoor rooms” in the Golden Lane estate, just as I value the huge areas of unadorned public space in the Barbican: they are places in which your mind is free. Long may they remain.

I perhaps had these thoughts because I was drawing my picture from an empty unfurnished flat. I was kindly given access by the owner, while the flat was being redecorated between tenants. Here is work in progress on my drawing.

The main colours in this picture are: Phthalo Blue Turquoise (W&N), Prussian Blue (Jacksons), Perylene Maroon (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), plus Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS) for the balconies on Basterfield House, and a small bit of Green Gold (DS) on the lighter parts of the tree.

Here are tools:

Here is a list of the drawings I have done in the Golden Lane Estate:

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