These great images come from a billboard I snapped just up from South Kensington tube, and the website www.exhibitionroad.com.
In one of the most interesting developments in London's streetscape, Exhibition Road is to become a 'shared street' or 'woonerf', a continuous urban carpet stretching between South Kensington tube and up to Hyde Park. This takes in the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victorial and Albert Museum, the Albert Hall, and Imperial College to name a few of the landmarks along this historic route.
"South Kensington is one of the foremost centres of public education in the world and London's most important single museum destination. Free admission to the national museums has nearly doubled the number of people visiting the three major museums,and the area currently attracts a third more visitors than any other heritage zone in London. Taken as a whole, Exhibition Road is Britain’s most significant intellectual highway."
Obviously with so many visitor attractions and public buildings along the route, there are a lot of pedestrians, which leads to congested pavements, while the road itself is a reasonably busy north-south connector.
So it's a bold move turning this into a living street where cars will have to coexist with people, and one that will either be a talisman for more streetscapes like this in the UK, or if it fails, put road traffic management back 20 years into the realm of segregation, barricades, underpasses and urban motorways.
But it such a disappointment to contrast the vibrant, lively designs of the graphics with the lumpen, uninspired streetscape designs by Dixon Jones. A uniform checkerboard of diagonal flagstones straight from the 'will this do' pattern book, trying to evoke an Italianate piazza but failing miserably, Heck, even Farrell would have added a bit of colour. I may not particularly like Alsop's architecture, but the playfulness of one of his technicolor yawns would have been preferable.
In creating a memorable design for this new spatial archetype, I want the architecture to be more like the graphics.