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A little less conversation

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At last night’s event Future Hackney: the Shape of Tomorrow, Astragal found the many speeches rather long and their self-congratulatory tone, upon closer inspection of the exhibition’s models, rather misjudged. Architectural gems by Adjaye Associates (Rivington Place), Ash Sakula (the Hothouse extension) and Waugh Thistleton (Hoxton Cinema) had a sense of scale and identity. Where Hackney Council is losing the 24ha-plot altogether is on the Woodberry Down proposals, which appear to have transposed the urban style of Dubai onto this maligned area of the borough. The report circulating yesterday noted that residents felt there had been too much consultation and not enough action; sadly, but predictably, the suggested remedy was a further period of extensive resident feedback. How will fatuous quiz nights and weekend fundays generate better cities? Will any resident at these events suggest a series of high-rise towers be placed randomly to create an an urban quarter without any hierarchy, proportion or identity; or will some suggest that the context – adjacent to Finsbury Park and two reservoirs – be entirely ignored? Hackney Homes’ current proposal is crass, crude and utterly banal – the council should refuse planning consent and compel the developer to produce a scheme that has at least a hope of succeeding in its aims of creating a viable, sustainable community. Hackney deserves better.

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