letter from london | december 2011

courtesy of vitorio benedetti

by Melanie Nelson

November saw me in Stratford, East London on a search for colleges with my son or should I say Stratford City.  I had no idea of the scale of building development in the area, even before the building of the Olympic site, it was a huge project transforming this messy part of London into a buzzing commercial centre in its own right. With a new international Rail link, residential development, parks and new commercial centre including Westfield east the new largest urban shopping centre which also hosts Britain’s largest casino.  On the day I was there it was very apparent that despite the recession retail therapy is not a dying sport in Stratford!

Westfield Stratford City

I was also pretty amazed to see the scale of some of the new architecture now going up in the city which I witnessed from my seat on the No. 76 bus to St Paul’s.  Including the Elegant looking Leadenhall Building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, due to be completed in 2014 and the 288m Pinnacle  Tower (or “Helter Skelter)  by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates almost next door to the weird looking “Walkie Talkie” at 20 Fenchurch Street designed by the Uruguayan born architect Rafael Viñoly,  looking more like a men’s electric shaver with its top heavy form housing a sky garden which will be open to the public.

All in stark contrast to the Tent City “occupy London movement” camped at St Paul’s, which has been the hot topic during November.  Whether you’re with or against the movement, you certainly cant ignore it.

LeadenHall BuildingPinnacle Tower and 20 Fenchurch StreetSaint Paul's

Heading back West and camping of a different sort.  The Royal College of Art in Kensington on 26th November hosted its 18th RCA secret. A sale of almost 3,000.00 postcard size original works of art by well known and lesser known artists, priced at £45.00 each.  The point being that the artist’s identity remains unknown until the postcard is purchased. A great way to raise money for the college and an event growing in popularity, so much so, that it is now necessary to queue overnight to have any chance of buying the best of the bunch.  Though I wouldn’t mind one of the pieces, I don’t fancy spending the night in a tent for the privilege of owning an original work by the likes of Yoko Ono, Nick Parks or Grayson Perry, maybe next year.

The other big event of the autumn I will probably miss is The Leonardo da Vinci Show, billed as “the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever brought together in one place”  and the fastest selling exhibition in The History of The National Gallery, where tickets are so hot they are selling for up to £250.00 each through unofficial ticket touts.

However, there are a few tickets available every day on the door, so maybe I should consider a night camping outside a major London Institution after all!

melanie nelsonMelanie Nelson is the co-founder of Addison Nelson Design and AND Furniture.  She is based in London working on a diverse range of exclusive private and commercial interiors in South East Asia and Europe.

One Response to “letter from london | december 2011”
  1. Jason Thorne says:

    Hi Melanie, interesting stuff. Like the architectural pics. Best, Jason x

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