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Ten practices interpret the identities of ten women in LFA design challenge

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The follies each take inspiration from a past or present female figure in a response to the London Festival of Architecture’s theme of ‘Identity’

In celebration of the centenary of women’s suffrage as well as the London Festival of Architecture’s theme of ‘Identity’, Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) has commissioned Interpreted Identities’, a design challenge for a series of dedicated installations or follies, created by a selection of London’s architecture practices and artists, which have each taken inspiration from a past or present female figure.

The installations are located in the BOST-managed Marlborough Sports Garden near London Bridge, and will be there for the duration of the festival which runs until 30 June. The follies will also be at the centre of ‘The Great Get Together Bankside’, part of a nationwide street festival in memory of the late MP Jo Cox.

The folly designs

DnA Factory 4

DnA Factory 4

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

The DnA Factory

Interpreted Identity: Mary Shelley

‘Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft (the subject of another folly) - was a novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, who is most well-known for her 1818 novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. The DnA Factory’s folly is constructed from salvaged materials and found objects, so is a 100 per cent recycled/up-cycled sculptural work.

InsideOut 2

InsideOut 2

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

InsideOut

Interpreted Identity: Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

Consuelo came from a life of absolute privilege but chose to use that privilege for the betterment of those most in need, stepping outside her prescribed circle and selflessly working to improve the wider community. One of her legacy projects is the Marlborough Sports Garden, the very site for this folly project.

One Works 6

One Works 6

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

One Works

Interpreted Identity: Annie Besant

Annie Besant was a women’s rights activist and progressive thinker whose values are regarded as commonplace today. A supporter of Indian and Irish self-rule, Besant was also a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NSS) as well as being a writer.

aros 2

aros 2

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

Aros Architects

Interpreted Identity: Bella Burge

Known as ‘Bella of Blackfriars’, Bella Burge ran a boxing ring, locally called The Ring, which she inherited from her late husband Dick Burge. Bella Burge was a former music hall performer and ran The Ring for 25 years after her husband’s death. Using money made from her time as a performer (under the stage name of Bella Lane, she fitted out The Ring in 1910.

PRP jpg

PRP jpg

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

PRP Architects

Interpreted Identity: James Barry

Dr James Miranda Steuart Barry – born Margaret Ann Bulkley – was a military surgeon who oversaw military hospitals, obtaining the rank of inspector general, the second highest medical office in the British Army. A respected practitioner, Barry improved the hospital conditions for many hospitalised soldiers. The biggest revelation about Barry’s life, however, came posthumously. After living all her adult life as a man, it only became known that Barry was a woman after her death.

RCKa 6

RCKa 6

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

RCKa

Interpreted Identity: Alice Williams (#WomenLikeAlice)

Alice Williams runs Luminary, a London bakery that provides skills training and support for disadvantaged women. We’d like Alice to act as the figurehead to celebrate all women in the local community who have set up small charities or go above and beyond. The idea is that people will be able to relate to everyday women like Alice and in turn inspire them to help others.

Cove Burgess 5

Cove Burgess 5

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

Cove Burgess

Interpreted Identity: Octavia Hill

Octavia Hill was an English social reformer who focused much of her work on improving the living conditions of city inhabitants, particularly those in London, towards the end of the 19th century. Hill championed many values that, as architects, we have a great respect for. We chose to focus on her love and advocacy of green and public spaces.

forge 2

forge 2

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

FORGE Architects

Interpreted Identity: PJ Harvey

A musician, singer-songwriter, writer, poet, and composer, Harvey is a master of many instruments. She is a two-time Mercury Prize winner — the only artist to have been awarded the prize twice. Furthermore, Harvey has been nominated for the Brit Award eight times, has seven Grammy Award nominations and an additional two Mercury Prize nominations. In a small act of rebellion, we found an ‘extraordinary woman’ of our time. We pushed the boundaries set out by the brief, to go taller and add experiential elements. We acknowledged her roots, influences and common themes to come up with a playful proposal in the hope of breaking out of the box to find some rhythm.

stephen Kavanagh architects 2

stephen Kavanagh architects 2

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

Steven Kavanagh Architects

Interpreted Identity: Fanny Wilkinson

Wilkinson studied at the Crystal Palace School of Landscape Gardening and Practical Horticulture, where she completed an 18-month course in landscape architecture. The course was meant for men only and Wilkinson was the first woman to even attempt enrollment. By 1884, she was serving as a landscape gardener for Octavia Hill’s Kyrle Society and to the Metropolitan Public Gardens, Boulevard and Playground Association (MPGA). SKA chose to interpret Fanny’s life and achievements as a victory for determined action over inaction and discontent. She saw an imbalance and methodically set about overturning it so that she could do what she loved doing.  Having cut through social constraints, her work thrived and Southwark, among others, benefited from the results.

foundry and bottle 2

foundry and bottle 2

Source: Michael Hewson, director, Electrofilm

Foundry and Bottle

Interpreted Identity: Mary Wollstonecraft

A biography written by her husband, shortly after her untimely death at 38, exposed intimate details of her life, tarnishing her reputation and works among society at the time and leaving a complex legacy as a neglected and forgotten figure. Despite being considered a founder of feminism and an inspiration for campaigners over the last two centuries, she is critically underappreciated. We want to join the campaign for her wider recognition, with a folly inspired by her last written work creating a secluded and naturally sublime space for introspective reflections.

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