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More from Alexander Davidson

The Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED)

This viewpoint deals with BedZED, the most notable mixed-use sustainable community to be developed in London over the last twenty years. Develped by Bioregional and the Peabody Trust to designs by Bill Dunster Architects, BedZED was subject to significant media attention upon its completion in 2002 and no shortage of controversy. In this viewpoint, I argue that rather than being seen as good or bad, the scheme should be seen as an indication of how much our expectations regarding sustainabilty have changed over the last two decades.

The Toilet Tower on Conduit Mews

This viewpoint focusses on a toilet tower (a series of bathrooms stacked in the shape of a helix), built as part of scheme to transform four Victorian terraced houses into student housing in Paddington, London, in the late-1960s. More specifically, how architects Nicholas Grimshaw and Terry Farrell promoted plastics in architecture on aesthetic grounds in a way which has ultimately proved to be unsustainable.

The House of the Future at Olympia London

This viewpoint focusses on a futuristic vision for plastics in architecture and interior design: Alison and Peter Smithson‘s House of the Future, which was shown at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Show at the London Olympia Exhibition Centre in 1956. The exhibition structure, containing everything from chairs made of fibreglass to bedding fashioned out of Nylon, popularised an aesthetic for the materials’ use in architectural and visual design which has lasted until the present day.

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Victorian Police Graffiti on Myddelton Passage, Clerkenwell, London

Although they may be easy to miss, Myddelton Passage in Clerkenwell contains a unique historical record as a series of numbers, letters and dates can be found carved into the brickwork on the left side of the passage, many of which were scratched onto the wall by officers of the London Metropolitan Police. The practice started at some point around the mid to late 19th century and continued until around the time of the First World War, with many of the carvings referring to personal collar numbers and divisions, carved by local Police Constables.