Transport for London’s breakdown of exactly how £53 million was wasted on an unbuilt Garden Bridge makes for a captivating read
Some of the amounts, such as the £2.76 million pocketed by Heatherwick Studio and Arup’s near £13 million, were more or less known.
However the whopping £21.4 million handed to contractors Bouygues Travaux Publics and Cimolai SpA, despite serious doubts about the project’s future, was more than most expected. The detailed spreadsheet also revealed how the Garden Bridge Trust spent £148,000 on visualisations for fundraising and £2.3 million on legal costs. The trust’s various executives also took home £1.7 million in salaries.
Another major outlay went on the search for bombs at the bottom of the Thames – part of £1.3 million spent on marine geotechnical surveys, which involved the sinking of dozens of boreholes into the riverbed.
A further £425,000 went to cover the costs of ITV, which was worried about the noise and disruption of construction works close to its Good Morning Britain studio, and £235,000 to landowner Coin Street Builders. Meanwhile CABE received £3,500 for its design review services.
But it wasn’t all spend, spend, spend. The document also reveals how generous donors bid £3,200 at a charity auction to play ping-pong with ex-London Mayor and arch-bridge backer Boris Johnson.
Sadly, this highly anticipated game never took place and the bidder ultimately had their money repaid.
The former mayor not delivering on his promises? Surely not.
Scruton’s shed claim fails to provoke ARB
Mediating in ‘misuse of title’ disputes with run-of-the-mill fake architects is an everyday occurrence for the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Yet recently the regulator found itself presiding over a more unusual case when the philosopher and aesthetics professor Roger Scruton landed in the dock.
It all started at the government’s design conference in Birmingham where Scruton casually remarked he hadn’t picked any architects for his Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission as they had ‘vested interests’.
One Tweeter quipped this was like not visiting a dentist because they might have a vested interest in pulling teeth.
However, things escalated when Scruton added: ‘I’m an architect – I designed my garden shed.’
Some mused over what kind of outhouse this might be – did it conform to the Doric order? Did his neighbours approve?
Others were outraged he had dared to self-identify as an architect and appealed to the powers at ARB.
The body came to a swift decision and, with uncharacteristic breeziness, replied on Twitter: ‘You may be interested to know that if the title “architect” isn’t used in the course of business or practice, it is unlikely to be a breach of the law.’ Carry on, professor!
In Egham, no one can hear you scream
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People having too much fun on a neighbouring site can cause unexpected headaches for architects.
Readers may recall how the Ministry of Sound nightclub objected to plans for a tower by Allies and Morrison next to its Elephant and Castle home on the grounds that the scheme’s new residents might complain about noise from the superclub.
Bizarrely, a similar issue has arisen in leafy Egham.
Last year, Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt submitted well-received plans to convert Ted Cullinan’s Grade II*-listed Ready Mix Concrete building (pictured) in Surrey into an 81-home retirement living complex.
However it has hit a small problem. Thorpe Park, the theme park that sits across the nearby Manor Lake, is trying to block the scheme.
Its objection: that the peace-seeking retirees, once moved in, will complain about the screams from people on the rides and that the threat of injunctions from them could ultimately be ‘detrimental’ to the park’s business.
A decision on the project has now been put back while investigations into noise levels continue.