Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Pop up stairs at the South Bank

At the back of the South Bank Centre this rather handsome flight of stairs provides a new way up to the terraces around the Hayward Gallery.  Pop-ups, temporary installations, meanwhile uses etc etc seem to be all the rage and this stair, supported on standard metal containers, feeds off that zeitgeisty, recession-friendly aesthetic, though I've no idea if it's planned to be temporary or not. 

Sadly, there is a history of rather unsatisfactory temporary solutions lasting several decades at the boondoggle that is the SBC's estate - this one is far superior to many of the the various lash-ups that have come and gone, often outstaying their welcome, over the years.

A previous post discussed the variable quality standards applied when structures are envisaged as temporary - and we can expect plenty of that this summer, with Trafalgar Square already filling up with unsightly tat, and a giant upside-down purple plastic cow occupying the car park on the other side of the rail tracks from the Hayward (which may cause some puzzlement to visitors when the lavish new Jubilee Gardens open shortly).

What the SBC stair suggests, as have some other recent pop up projects, is that a willingness to treat a modest intervention as a proper commission, and the application of a lively design intelligence, can enhance the city and lift the spirits without the need for big budgets, or the intention to build for posterity - and that there's no need for the ephemeral to be tatty and thoughtless.

1 comment:

  1. Much of the success of this and the many other works can be attributed to a client getting good design advice in the form of Steve Smith, ex of Farrells and DEGW and now Urban Narrative. Steve has made, in some cases literally, all these interventions possible. The latest is a performance balcony, rather like a pier, projecting from the upper level out towards the River.