Interrobang and ScottWhitbystudio are among six emerging studios shortlisted in an international contest to design a temporary maypole on London’s Strand
Also shortlisted are Scale Rule, Spheron Architects, Hardman Structural Engineers with Studio Verve, and Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries.
The competition, organised by the London Festival of Architecture (LFA), sought proposals for a pop-up landmark to form the centrepiece of next year’s festival and provide a contemporary focus for ‘expressions of communal identity and shared experience’.
The project is backed by the Northbank Business Improvement District (BID), and follows last year’s LFA competition for a temporary events pavilion, won by IF_DO, which was built outside John Soane’s Grade II*-listed Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Earlier this year, YOU&ME Architecture won a separate LFA contest to transform a disused space beneath the Silvertown Flyover into a creative workspace.
LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘Just as the London Festival of Architecture encourages people to look at London in different ways, the shortlisted Modern Maypole practices have brought fresh eyes and approaches to a very traditional object.
‘The quality and variety of the entries has been a real showcase for London’s architectural talent, and we’re very excited about choosing a winner to be installed in June when the maypole on The Strand rises once again.’
The Northbank BID chief executive Ruth Duston said: ‘The community around the Northbank is a diverse one, yet very strong together in its shared identity of ingenuity and creativity.
‘We’re delighted with the proposals, all of which will enliven the space on Strand-Aldwych that acts as a stepping stone between international centres of innovation. With more permanent plans to transform this area’s public realm, this is the first step and will help businesses and visitors alike to engage with the space in a new and fun way.’
London’s largest maypole was erected on The Strand in 1660 to mark the restoration of the monarchy after the English Civil War. The wooden structure was a centrepiece of folk celebrations in the city before falling in a storm in 1672.
The competition aims to create a contemporary maypole on the site of the original landmark outside St Mary le Strand. The winning scheme, to be announced in December, will be constructed in time for next year’s festival.
Competition judges include Thomson, Julia Barfield, managing director of Marks Barfield Architects; Carole Boyd, who plays Lynda Snell in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers; Somerset House Trust director Jonathan Reekie; and Megan Dixon of The Northbank BID.
The full shortlist
Shortlisted: Modern Maypole by Scale Rule
- Modern Maypole by Scale Rule
A maypole assembled of many individual components – wooden discs stacked to form a ringed patchwork tower, each decorated by a London primary school, and added to the maypole by the students themselves.
Shortlisted: Colouful Language by Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries
- Colouful Language by Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries
This maypole celebrates London’s diversity with dozens of differently coloured ribbons, each representing a language spoken in the city, connecting a map of London suspended overhead and joining together at the tip of the maypole.
Shortlisted: The Dreamcatcher by Spheron Architects
- The Dreamcatcher by Spheron Architects
Colourful ribbons from a traditional-style maypole fall over a latticed structure at the base: a dreamcatcher net suspended over a seating area within the ribbons, with views upwards through the net and ribbons.
Shortlisted: Maypole by Interrobang
- Maypole by Interrobang
A slender spire supporting a colourful suspended net, which can be illuminated at night. A seating area beneath contains a pattern of “ribbons” radiating from the base of the maypole.
Shortlisted: Walking Tall – The Londoner by Hardman Structural Engineers and Studio Verve
- Walking Tall – The Londoner by Hardman Structural Engineers and Studio Verve
A bright red steel giant, striding along The Strand. Almost as high as the neighbouring spire of St Mary-le-Strand, the figure will be seen above the skyline when viewed from a distance.
Shortlisted: Maypole by ScottWhitbystudio and Whitby Wood
- Maypole by ScottWhitbystudio and Whitby Wood
A tall tensegrity structure, forming a lightweight pylon that rises above the neighbouring rooftops, constructed of slender rods held together with thin cables, with a framework shape that is reminiscent of the neighbouring church spire.