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Thursday, 3 November 2011


Ebury Street and Cundy Street, London, SW1
Johnson House is about to be pulled down, no great loss [a utilitarian but ugly building], it will be replaced by flats with an adequately designed, modernist fa├žade overlooking Ebury Square, and a dismal facade on Ebury Street – an uninspired attempt to fit in with the terraced houses and TODAY THEY ARE CUTTING DOWN SEVEN MATURE TREES.
Alas, I became aware of this new urban blight too late, after Westminster Council had granted planning permission. The existing space between the building line and the pavement is to be gobbled up, puny new trees are to be planted on the pavement. 
It is despairing how the planners, the architects and the developer do not ‘get it’ and have come up with yet another banal solution - and boy, are there a lot of these in London!

No.1 Hyde Park, Knightsbridge
Many a Londoner watched in horror while these buildings were built and overwhelmed their surroundings – now they are complete, you can judge for yourself.    
No. 1. Hyde Park has fetched record prices for its apartments but it is an urban blight.  Qatari investors or the Candy Brothers cannot be blamed nor, indeed, Richard Rogers, he is, after all, a world-renowned architect of talent.  The culprit is Kensington & Chelsea Council for allowing buildings to be erected which need double the land area to ‘breathe’ and for substituting a pleasant central entrance into Hyde Park for a slip entrance [which is easy to miss], a dark and dingy passage leading to the park.

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POETRY: Osip Mandelstam