Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Astragal: New contender for London's 'biggest cock-up'

  • Comment

Muf’s friction slides • Memorial unveiling draws a blank

There was a good turnout for Terry Farrell’s lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain last month, where the ‘polymath of planning’ received the RTPI’s rarely bestowed Gold Medal

As the 79-year-old architect took us through the many planning highlights in his long career, he touched on his damning critique of the redevelopment of Old Oak Common which, in early 2016, he branded the ‘biggest cock-up in years’.

Gamely listening to this fondly remembered castigation was Liz Peace, chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, who joined a panel discussion about Farrell’s contribution to planning after his presentation. She took it on the chin though – after all, she only joined the project this April.

Also among the panellists was Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, who took the opportunity to suggest what he believed was the capital’s current biggest foul-up in the making. 

His choice: the potential mess and lack of co-ordination between differing infrastructure demands at Euston, including the future needs of Crossrail 2, HS2 and Network Rail. 

‘The next half century’s biggest cock-up could be Euston Station,’ he told the audience.

‘The half an hour you save on your journey coming from the North will be wasted trying to get out of the station! [And] we’ll make mistakes like this again unless we think holistically.’

Perhaps Farrell is the man who could make ensure the necessary big thinking actually happens. The architect, who is in the running for the HS2 master developer partner role as part of the KPF/Argent Related Services team, concluded: ‘Euston is a piece of city-making first and a railway station second. 

‘I’m told 60 per cent of people who go to St Pancras don’t even go to catch trains.’  

Burn baby burn

Friction slides crop plastiques photography

Friction slides crop plastiques photography

Source: Plastiques Photography

Friction slides at Wonderlab

The kinesthetic theory of education favours students learning through physical experience. But can actual pain also have role to play?

During an investigation into the closure of muf’s interactive Wonderlab space at the Science Museum, which recently reopened, the AJ obtained data for visitor injuries from when the gallery opened in October 2016 until its mysterious closure in September. The most common injury? Friction burns caused by the grass, wooden and plastic so-called ‘friction’ slides (pictured) intended to teach the properties of this force – and certainly a lesson that afflicted slide-users will be unlikely to forget. These painful abrasions accounted for nearly a third of the 134 injuries. 

Even Science Museum employees did not escape unscathed. Among 10 staff injuries between February and July, a worker received a friction burn along his right arm while going down the plastic slide in order to ‘test the new mats’. 

Still, a read through the internal evaluation of the display, also received by the AJ, shows at least one child was not disheartened by his wounds. Describing her son’s experience, a mother is reported as saying: ‘Mine loved the slides, he ended up with a friction burn and he still loved it.’ 

Memorial unveiling draws a blank

Victoria & albert museum diliff

Victoria & albert museum diliff

Source: Diliff

Victoria and Albert Museum

Hopefully the progress of David Adjaye and Ron Arad’s competition-winning national Holocaust Memorial and learning centre project will run more smoothly than the design’s first public outing.

Last week the great and the good – among them TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, London mayor Sadiq Khan, communities secretary Sajid Javid and V&A boss Tristram Hunt – gathered in the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the ‘big reveal’ of both the victorious team and their winning concept.

Alas, a faulty fuse meant there was no AV and the large cinema screen remained frustratingly blank.

In a desperate bid to salvage the event, the assembled bigwigs and national media were then led through the famous London museum to another lecture theatre. There Adjaye’s designs and a film explaining the scheme could finally be shown off to the expectant crowd.

It was after this that Ephraim Mirvis, the UK’s chief rabbi, took to the platform, looked up at the audience and delivered the line: ‘Today, in more ways than one, has been a very moving experience.’

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.