Ah, so that's what the rubber bits are telling me. The concrete benches along Southwark Street rarely have people taking the chance to 'sit and dwell' on them - probably because there's so much noisy traffic, but they seem to be very popular with skateboarders and mountain bikers so I suppose one small section of the community has benefited from them.
The majority of these schemes look good on paper and are well intentioned, but many have fundamental flaws. One reason people don't use the Southwark Street benches is because they are made of concrete, a cold, hard material that's not too nice to sit on. This is something taught to 2nd year urban planning and design students - clearly this scheme was by an architect !
The river walk by Southwark Bridge looked nice when new, but the cheapness of its construction is now showing with bits of cladding missing and the lights shining up the wall no longer working. Where bits have broken they have been repaired using cheap materials from the council depot, ruining the look. This problem has also afflicted Borough High Street where chunks of good quality semi-engineering brick paving have been lifted for access to utilities, then somehow been filled in with tarmac. You can also see this around Elephant & Castle where what already appears to be cheap and poorly laid paving has been repaired with tarmac and paving slabs of different sizes. When implementing such schemes, councils should have a maintanence plan in place so that repairs are made to the original spec.
From what Zappomatic writes, it would seem the basic flaw that makes some of these projects difficult to sustain and maintain lies not with the designers but with the client [the council] where there is no well thought out brief in the first place and a lack of tough questioning / testing of the ideas and specification to ensure the ideas work. So there is this wonderful romantic image of how these spaces will be used in the 'ideal' world which is tempered with very little realism. Oh, and I bet they cost a bomb....were some of these things commisssioned by the departed and unlamented [by some] Fred Manson, Southwarks former Director of Regeneration?
> were some of these
> things commisssioned by the departed and
> unlamented Fred Manson, Southwarks former
> Director of Regeneration?
"In 1996, with an influx of both investment and people to the area, London Borough of Southwark sought to address the quality of its public realm. It approached the AF to assist with an open submission competition in which seven design teams were selected to produce practical proposals for the improvement of public space across the borough. Public consultation days were organised and the design proposals were exhibited in a transformed disused car-wash on Southwark Street. Its success resulted in four built schemes completed by East Architects , EP Associates, muf architecture/art and Patel Taylor."
In fairness to Fred, the projects were delivered for pretty modest sums compared with some other "regeneration" projects.
The Manson project I am reminded of every day [always with the same thought - why did they think that was necessary?] is the 'new' modular street name signs - I'm a confirmed luddite as far as these are concerned and feel the old style ones were more in keeping with the area.