ANDREW PELLING sat in on an ideas session at the architecture exhibition at Fairfield Halls, and was unsurprised by what he heard
The London Festival of Architecture programme, which includes an exhibit of “New Croydon” at the Fairfield Halls through this weekend and into next week, yesterday highlighted up-and-coming talent.
Students from the London Metropolitan University, the University of Creative Arts Canterbury and the Manchester School of Architecture turned their young minds and skills to the significant urban design challenges of our borough.
It is always instructive to hear how other people see us. The students’ creative ideas revealed a good and even humorous understanding of Croydon’s built environment.
There was an excellent suggestion to add to the 700-tonne steel bridge, funded with £6million of our Council Tax money, that will from November hurry residents across the railway lines at East Croydon towards the front door of the Job Centre in Dingwall Road.
With a desire to improve connections to a town centre that is divided by an urban motorway, students suggested movable golden tetrahedral-styled pedestrian bridges that “can be moved as and when Croydon has another new strategic planning review”. These students clearly had done their homework.
Another set of students felt that the Redhill Sadvertiser published only negative vox pops about the town and that central Croydon had so much more open space than other towns that could be used to create good quality public realm. This quality space would provide Croydon with sufficient “play” areas to attract families among the 17,000 residents that the council wants to install into town centre tower blocks.
Transformation was sought of an environment seen as offering “little of human scale” and dominated by separate buildings with dynamic first names like “Lunar” or “Apollo”, but pedestrian second names like “building”. These buildings were entirely separated from each other by rings of soulless parking spaces, according to the students.
One student compared Croydon’s skyscrapers in their separate corralled grounds to the story of The Lonely Skyscraper by Jenny Hawkesworth. The budding architect must have been reading the IYLO building’s plea made here on Inside Croydon.
There were also proposals to respect New Addington‘s original development as a garden town and to turn Central Parade into a village green with modular community space, a low speed zone to bring the road into pedestrian use and a dog walking area. Those in New Addington who have used to village green statutes to shape the debate there will be pleased with such a concept. There is also an irony in the dog provision after the Council Leader, Mike Fisher described Central Parade as “a dog toilet, really”.
There was also a call for shopping in the open air and not “homogenised Westfield development”. This seemed to be an endorsement by one panellist of the Hammerson commitment to some open air shopping in its Croydon proposals.
The next Croydon event is on Monday at 5.30pm, a review of what makes for a good concert hall. The meeting place will be the concert hall itself so praised by professional musicians for its acoustics. See www.newcroydonarchitecture.co.uk for full details.
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