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ScottWhitbystudio wins Modern Maypole contest

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ScottWhitbystudio and WhitbyWood have won the international contest to design a temporary maypole on London’s Strand as part of next year’s London Festival of Architecture

The duo’s winning design was chosen ahead of rival bids by Interrobang; 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 triumphant scheme was drafted by the father-and-son duo, architect Alex-Scott Whitby and engineer Mark Whitby. Inspired by the South Bank’s long-lost Skylon, the scheme features a tower comprising 32 golden maypoles which each represent a London borough and will be distributed to schools and community organisations across the capital after the festival concludes.

Mark Whitby, director of WhitbyWood said: ‘The Modern Maypole is the result of the wishful thinking of a father-and-son collaboration which has led to a ‘look, no hands’ structure that is challenging our own engineering logic.

‘Winning the competition has been both exciting and challenging for WhitbyWood as we now look to turn our design dream into a constructed reality by putting our theories to the test.’

Alex Scott-Whitby, director at ScottWhitbystudio said: ‘We are delighted, humbled, and tremendously excited to have won the Modern Maypole competition. As a team it means a great deal to all of us to have been tasked with the honour of creating a new structure on this hugely important London site.

‘We hope that what we create will become a place for Londoners to meet, visitors to explore and a marker point that will help London forge its new identity.’

Festival director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘London’s identity has changed almost beyond recognition since a maypole last stood on The Strand. The Modern Maypole is therefore a brilliant vehicle to explore how the city, and with it our sense of individual and collective identity has changed.

‘It also offers a fascinating exploration of public space at the bustling heart of London but, most importantly, will give us a brilliant showcase of architectural and engineering imagination by a fantastic London-based team.’

It offers a fascinating exploration of public space at the bustling heart of London

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 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.

Competition judges included 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 shortlist

Modern Maypole by Scale Rule

Shortlisted: Modern Maypole by Scale Rule

Shortlisted: 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.

Colouful Language by Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries

Shortlisted: Colouful Language by Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries

Shortlisted: 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.

The Dreamcatcher by Spheron Architects

Shortlisted: The Dreamcatcher by Spheron Architects

Shortlisted: 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.

Maypole by Interrobang

Shortlisted: Maypole by Interrobang

Shortlisted: 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.

Walking Tall – The Londoner by Hardman Structural Engineers and Studio Verve

Shortlisted: Walking Tall – The Londoner by Hardman Structural Engineers and Studio Verve

Shortlisted: 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.

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