Calli di Castello

A trip to Italy this month included a visit to the Architecture Biennale in Venice, primarily to see the Special Project exhibition on the Robin Hood Gardens estate. Going between the Biennale locations of Arsenale and Giardini meant walking through the narrow residential streets (calli) of the Castello district. It is as far away from the tourist crush, in the centre of Venice, as can be found.

The Biennale was also fairly quiet with only two other people viewing the Robin Hood Gardens; A Ruin in Reverse exhibition in the Applied Arts Pavilion. It gave a detailed history and exposition on the Smithson’s social ambition for the housing estate and an interesting commentary in a video titled ‘Vision and Value’. Searching for it online finds only this teasing loop of footage of a barge which I presume carried the concrete sections of the building that had been salvaged from East London and then re-assembled around a scaffold at the exhibition. 

Instone Wharf

Instone Wharf was constructed to remove excavated London clay from the Crossrail tunnels by barge to Wallasea Island in Essex where it was used to create a nature reserve.  In future plans, the wharf is re-imagined as a terminus for a new ‘ecologically focussed’ Limmo Park, making accessible a large section of the riverine landscape after the Crossrail compound at Canning Town closes. This image is one of three recently added to my Walking the Leaway project.  

Paynes Wharf

Paynes Wharf dates from the mid-nineteenth century and had been Grade 2 listed and was awaiting development when I made this image in 2010. The Italianate style facade was held up by a steel frame and the sight of Canary Wharf across the Thames through the giant arched windows compressed a scene of urban architectural change. Now the stock bricks, painted stonework, moulded cornices and rusticated keystones have all been restored and on Sunday 12 November it will be one of the first stops on a Creekside architectural photo walk I’m organising for this years Urban Photo Fest.      

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