Looking back through photographs made last summer I was reminded again of the mixed fortunes of council housing schemes. Golden Lane is a Corporation of London post-war estate near Barbican with well-designed homes and thoughtful external spaces. It now typifies the best council housing of that era and the blocks have been sympathetically maintained over the years. What a shame that the same can’t be said of Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar which, though built a decade later, is now due for demolition as part of the Blackwall Reach regeneration scheme.
The Shoal by Studio Egret West was completed in time for 2012 and extends alongside the (old) Stratford shopping centre and car park as a defining part of Stratford’s new urban landscape.
This year’s Urban Photo Fest is themed (re:) Thinking the Street and opens at Tate Britain on Friday the 23rd October with a keynote address by London photographic artist Rut Blees Luxembourg. On Sunday 25th I am making a small contribution which is to lead a photo walk through my local neighbourhood of London’s Olympic Park and East Village, formerly the Athletes’ Village. The walk is an opportunity to look at the new architecture and parklands and also to consider ideas about the street and public space in this regenerated urban landscape. I spent several days over the summer photographing in and around East Village curious to see how this newly made place is starting to establish itself.
I’ve just returned from holiday in Portugal where I spent one day in Coimbra which, until the 13th century, was the capital of the country and is perhaps most well-known now for its prestigious university. After ascending very steep streets to the top of the town, some interesting views of the downtown district opened up which had me thinking again about how photography depicts urban density.
After getting home I looked up the Architecture of Density by Michael Wolf which draws us into highly condensed views of the modern mega city of Hong Kong. I like that the graphic ambiguity of his images leaves some thinking space for interpretation by the viewer. While searching online I came across this interview in which Michael Wolf explains more about how he came to work on the project.
A couple of months ago saw the opening of The Line, a sculpture trail linking Greenwich with the Olympic Park and so-called because it loosely follows the Meridian Line. Putting aside any interest in sculpture, The Line is an opportunity to walk a section of the River Lea that has been relatively inaccessible until now. It has opened up a route through Cody Dock and, walking north, leads on past a section of dense reeds through a very pleasant riverside to Bow Locks. The walk passes some of the remaining industrial landscape of the Lower Lea and gives outstanding views towards the Balfron Tower. If you’ve come for the sculpture then you can see the double helix of shopping trolleys called DNA DL90 by Abigail Fallis and Sensation by Damien Hirst.
With this section of the River Lea now accessible, I am also keeping an interest in a landscape project called the Leaway that aims to unlock a continuous walking route from the Olympic Park to Trinity Buoy Wharf at Leamouth and the Thames.