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London riots: regeneration on fire

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Rioting spread across London last night with fires and looting reported at major regeneration sites in the capital’s boroughs

Disturbances involving looting and arson took place in Hackney, Peckham, Lewisham, Woolwich, Croydon and Clapham Junction.

Reports on twitter last night claimed that buildings around Woolwich’s newly completed £6.6 million General Gordon Square had been set alight. Gustafson Porter designed a paddling pool for the area.

Donncha O Shea, architect at Gustafson Porter, said: It is very sad to see this vibrant community subjected to the senseless violence and damage of the rioters and we hope that the people of Woolwich and the town centre overcome it. It was always intended that a regeneration project  like Woolwich Squares, would be a catalyst for positive change in the town centre, and this remains the aim.

Gangs were also reported to be gathering in Dalston’s Gillett Square which opened in 2006 and was designed by Hawkins\Brown Architects and Whitelaw Turkington Landscape Architect.

Reports on twitter also claimed violent youths attempted to attack a Muf-designed library named after Afro-Trinidadian journalist and cricket writer C.L.R James which is part of Arup Associates 553-home Dalston Square regeneration scheme.

More than 6,000 police officers took to the streets to quell the violence however in some areas, such as Clapham Junction, residents complained of a lack of police presence.

Disturbances also spread outside the capital to Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.

Nick Willson of Nick Willson Architects said: ‘We live in hackney and could see helicopters and hear sirens all night.

‘The roads where we work and on the way home were like a ghost town. Shops were boarded up early. I’ve never seen anything like it in London before’

James Eagle, who works for Gianni Botsford Architects and lives in Battersea, claimed he saw a gang violently attacking a passerby and ‘hitting him repeatedly over the head with a glass bottle.’

He added: ‘It is important to stress that these idiots are not merely attacking buildings.’

Alex Haw of Atmos Studio said two people were stuck working at the office because the building had to be closed during the riots.

Outside Tesco there was a ‘carpet of broken glass,’ he said, while the Curry’s superstore on Whitechapel Road had a ‘hoarde of riot vans’ protecting it while ‘shadowy figures lurked and smirked across the road.’

He added that he saw a bus shelter ‘destroyed’ after which there was ‘shouts of excitement and jubilation.’

This morning, concerned Londoners took to the streets armed with brooms to help out with the clean-up. The operation is being coordinated via #riotcleanup on twitter.  


Was your practice affected? Were any of your projects hit by the riots? Share your account of what happened

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