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Astragal: Centre Point’s embellished characters

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Whatever happened to the 2m-tall lettering taken from the top of Centre Point during its recent restoration? 

As the Conran and Partners-led revamp began in 2015, the letters from the 34th floor of R Seifert and Partners’ Grade II-listed central London skyscraper were demounted and handed to a group of artists including Gavin Turk and Mark Wallinger to embellish.

Talking about the unusual commission, the late sculptor Nancy Fouts, who died shortly after completing her artwork, said: ‘The letter was so heavy it took three men to bring it into my garden. My thought was to make it into sailors’ beadwork, so I removed the electrics and Perspex, painted the metal to make it look like wood and filled the inside with foam.

‘I used whatever I found in the studio to adorn it. It tickled me to decorate something so gigantic with tiny beads and trinkets.’

Nancy’s letter ‘N’ and the other 10 transformed letters from the Tottenham Court Road office tower-turned-luxury-flats are now being put up for auction by developer Almacantar. Proceeds will go to homelessness charity Centrepoint. Meanwhile, identically shaped and sized replacement letters with all-new LED lamps have been installed on the tower.  

Caruso St John faces Peterloo protest

Peterloo memorial oct 2018

Peterloo memorial oct 2018

Disability rights campaigners have taken to social media to protest against Caruso St John’s under-construction memorial to the victims of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. 

Unhappy at the lack of wheelchair access to the stepped, circular monument, objectors set up a Facebook group calling for, among other things, people to inundate Channel 4 TV show The Last Leg with tweets ahead of last Friday’s episode (14 June).

The architect and Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller were commissioned last year to design the memorial ahead of the 200th anniversary of the deaths at the pro-parliamentary reform rally on 16 August 1819.

‘When the design was revealed as a series of steps, it was pointed out that no access was provided for disabled people or other citizens for whom steps are a barrier to participation,’ said the Facebook group. 

Responding to the outcry, Deller has held his hands up, saying he had taken responsibility for ‘not considering enough the needs of people in wheelchairs’.

He added that he hoped that, ‘once the memorial is built, there might be a way to adapt it’. 

Ain’t no mountain high enough for Foster

Norman Foster recently turned 84 years old and celebrated in the way most octogenarians do … with a 12km climb on his Cervélo racing bike through the Col du Marchairuz – a high mountain pass in the Jura Mountains in the canton of Vaud in his beloved Switzerland. Chapeau! 

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Birthday ride in a 1958 Lotus

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Not satisfied with such active festivities, later that day he took a 1958 Lotus on a birthday spin through the vineyards around Lake Geneva wearing a vintage driving helmet. Fun fact: it was on Foster’s actual birthday on 1 June 1935 that Britain introduced mandatory driving tests. May we all be in such good health – and competent behind the wheel – at 84.

Bjarke’s bubble bath

Starchitect Bjarke Ingels was omnipresent at this year’s British Council for Offices (BCO) conference, held in his home city of Copenhagen.

The BIG chief dazzled delegates with a slide show of playful schemes, from the HQs for ‘Googlers’ in California and London to the wacky LEGO House. Down at the river, near-naked Danes dived off pontoons at the Harbour Bath – one of the practice’s earliest projects – while BCO-organised boat trips offered peeks of the BIGster’s new 500m ski run/waste-to-energy plant. Its proposed smoke rings were a challenge too far, even for Europe’s most Willy Wonka-esque designer. 

Out on the water, eyes were peeled for Ingels’ own dwelling, a decommissioned car ferry. The architect recalled a few snags when he moved in, such as a lack of power and water, which meant he had to ‘shower with bottles of San Pellegrino’.  

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I'm pretty sure Almacantar said it would be reinstalling the letters someowhere but obviously not. I walk past the place every day and it's sad to see it shorn of its pool, stairs and original function. Marooning the overbridge in a sea of paving and glass hans't helped either. Centre Point may have been flawed - or rather was placed in a flawed environment - but I'm not sure this is much better.

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