Second chance for forgotten spaces

How do you make use of forgotten sites in cities? This was the question raised by the Royal Institute of British Architects in its recent competition Forgotten Spaces where it challenged architects, designers, artists and students to find alternative uses for overlooked spaces in London and Sheffield.







Amongst the highlights includes the Firepits by Studio 3 Hawkins/Brown, an exciting new proposition for Crystal Palace, which caught fire in 1936. The idea is to turn the 1851 Great Exhibition building into a place for celebrating international food and music in a riot of smells and colours – much like what you see in places like the Djeemaa el Fna square in Marrakech.

Jumpers for Goalposts by GRID Architects focuses on a forgotten space in the Eastern Olympic Fringe in East London. Here the architect proposes ‘doorstep’ sports facilities, implemented using quick, low capital cost and low infrastructure methods – their purpose ‘to encourage sports participation, local ownership of space and foster community cohesion’, says the architect.

Moxon Architects has looked at the ?land beneath and adjacent to elevated sections of A40 Westway between Paddington Green and Meanwhile Gardens in West London. WEST_WAY is a proposal to transform this forgotten area by taking advantage of what the architects call ‘glamorous and beautiful existing spaces’ and giving them new functions.

Bee Project by Studiodare Architects is a combined urban park, ‘agroforest’ and bee-keeping aviary promoting a mutual dependency between the community and eco-system in the area between Kempton to Cricklewood Pipetrack. The project offers the potential to create an economic market for the exchange of produce.

Other notable London schemes include artist-inhabited church spires across the City, climbing tunnels in South London’s Clapham, and a project by AP+E in Bethnal Green that involves inhabiting and activating the forgotten rooftops of East London’s council blocks.

In the northern city of Sheffield the shortlisted schemes includes a giant golden frame that floats down the city’s canals, Sheffield’s own version of the Hollywood sign, an urban beach in a city centre car park and a shower block for urban potholers.

‘The range of proposals was particularly impressive and it is clear from the great ideas we saw that people had really had a lot of fun with it,’ says London judge Julia Barfield. ‘The shortlist is a great provocation for everyone to think about the use of space in their local area. The challenge now is to try and realise at least one.’

With 138 submissions in London and 60 in Sheffield it has been one of the largest open ideas competitions of its kind run by the RIBA.

Winners will be announced in the autumn with exhibitions to follow at Somerset House in London and the Crucible in Sheffield. First prize will receive £5,000, second prize £2,000 and third prize £1,000.

The full shortlists for London and Sheffield with galleries are available to view at Forgotten Space London and Forgotten Space Sheffield.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Chipperfield’s Turner Contemporary

David Chipperfield Architect’s new Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate does appear a little unworldly as you weave into the British seaside town that seems half stuck in the everyday grind of small town life and half harking back to its bygone glory days of British seaside resort.

It is stark, grey and modernist and not even in keeping with the accruement of more contemporary cafés and galleries that form part of the Margate regeneration team’s dream, of café culture coupled with creative start-ups escaping from excessive east London rents.

If anything, the building seems to abide by the aesthetic of the North Sea, which it faces onto, and the north Kent skies if frames; both expansive, understated, and arguably Margate’s most timeless features.

Inside the gallery, which occupies two large shed-like structures with oblique angled roofs, there is something formulaic about the polished concrete, large glass light wells, recessed staircases and soft backlighting, but it works.

The building brings natural daylight from the seafront in, which, it is in part a tribute to – Turner escaped to Margate from London for its quality of light, and captures silence, space and awe around the exhibits, bringing some of the essence of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (the Turner is partner of Tate) from London’s Southbank to Kent’s coastline.

Inside, the etched and painted, classic and contemporary representations of Margate, together with the slick architecture and central sea-facing window, do only seem to capture one side of this seaside town; luckily we have artists like Emin to expose the other.

Guest blogger Rachel Calton . Images by Andrea Klettner & Richard Bryant

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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