Justine Simons OBE - London Architecture Diary's November guest editor

Friday 10 November 2017

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This month London Architecture Diary's guest editor is Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries. Justine, a champion of London’s arts and creative industries, gives her top tips for winter arts and architecture activities in London...

"I love November. As the days draw in and winter starts to wrap its arms around the city, the sound of rustling leaves, the fading smell of bonfires and fireworks in the air and the twinkle of lights inviting discovery, the city offers a host of activities that draw our eye to the architecture of the city in so many different ways. 

The biggest ‘outdoor gallery’ opening for November is Walthamstow Wetlands. As Europe’s largest urban wetland this is a unique open space, a fusion of built and natural heritage. First acknowledged in the early 1940s by town planner Patrick Abercrombie, it has now been given a new lease of life. Award-winning practice Witherford Watson Mann has reimagined the old mill and pumping station to create a brand new visitor centre in the Marine Engine House.

Strike out to southeast London and visit Chislehurst Caves, 22 miles of caves and passageways built in the 13th century and initially used for chalk mining. These druid-designed caves have been used for mushroom cultivation, an air raid shelter with a population of 15,000 people, and as a venue for great artists such as David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. Well worth a visit to see this hidden heritage site.

If you prefer a little bit of indoor time, look out for museums and galleries off the beaten track. I’m a big fan of the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, an extraordinary building, gardens and bandstand designed by Charles Harrison Townshend and further extended by Allies and Morrison in 2002. You can get up close and personal with exhibits from their fantastic collection of anthropology and musical instruments. The weekly Farmers Market on Saturday mornings gives you a chance to wander the gardens and admire the incredible views across London. 

One of my favourite venues is the Roundhouse in Camden, a hub of inspiration where you can see the latest shows and gigs. An old train depot, the building was redesigned by architects John McAslan and Partners in association with engineering company Buro Happold. It is an awe-inspiring building inside and out. I recommend On Mass 2017, part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. Another great music venue is the amazing Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley. It is one of the last 1950's style ballrooms left in the city. It was designed by Henley Attwater and is a wonderfully kitsch music venue with live music and dance nights.

And finally, where better to do some Christmas shopping than at Cockpit Arts open studios in Holborn where you can purchase a range of products from independent designers, from fashion and jewellery to textiles. To finish it off why not head over to SKATE at the spectacular 18th century Somerset House, for a fusion of ice and hot chocolate!"



The London Architecture Diary is your essential guide to architecture exhibitions and events taking place across London, brought to you by New London Architecture.

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