Get creative with public spaces in urbanism competition

Urban Commons

Organisers of a new competition are inviting Londoners to re-imagine the city’s urban spaces in a practice known as “commoning”, or reclaiming public spaces to be used by the communities in which they are located.

With London’s open spaces increasingly being developed for profit and managed by private owners (sound familiar in West Hampstead at the moment?) the organisers Theatrum Mundi, a group of urbanists and artists, feel that “the range of activities permitted in urban spaces is becoming increasingly narrow”. How best to reclaim and use these spaces?

Feeling inspired? Perhaps there’s somewhere local, such as the Travis Perkins building on West End Lane, you feel could be used to benefit the local community.

You don’t need to be a professional designer or architect to enter your idea – it’s open to all. Full details can be found on the Urban Commons website, and the closing date is May 1st, so there are still a couple of weeks left to develop your idea.

Ten selected proposals will be awarded £300 toward the implementation of their proposal and will be featured at an exhibition at the LSE as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

Name the West Hampstead Square towers

Whether or not you’re a fan of the West Hampstead Square development, it’s already well underway. Some of you have been into the marketing suite, which showcases the fixtures and fittings of the apartments (vintage, despite the modern architecture), and plenty more of you have been gazing through the window at the rather large model of the development.

For people who haven’t yet realised how big this scheme is, the model (which lights up at night rather pleasingly) gives some idea. West End Lane is on the right.

The tower blocks, which range from 5 storeys to 12, are currently named “A, B, C… etc.” Dull, right?

I had a word with Ballymore and it is willing to let whampers come up with names for each building. It’s competition time folks.

Get thinking
You need to come up with a name for each of the seven blocks in the development. Ballymore (not me) will choose the winner and there’s a caveat here – because these will be actual addresses of people’s properties, they have to be approved by the council too, so bear that in mind.

The winner will be the person who makes the most suggestions that are then used in the final building names. That person will win a three-course dinner for two with a tasting glass of wine paired with each course at The Wet Fish Café, and will be invited to the opening, along with knowing that they’ve helped to shape the built landscape of West Hampstead. Should a building name that has been submitted by other readers aside from the winner be chosen, they too will be invited to the opening.

There are no other parameters. I’m sure some of you will have some choice suggestions that clearly won’t get selected, and I’m braced for people who’ll say “we’re doing Ballymore’s job for them”, but why not look at the positives, help shape the place we live and bring these buildings into the community.

If you can’t come up with seven names, then why not suggest as many as you can – they may still get selected.

As I said, there are no other criteria – i will tell you that the marketing campaign is built around “Connections”, but that doesn’t have to influence you. I’ve already bagged Jimelda Towers by the way, in honour of our local thespian couple.

Send your suggestions to . Deadline is midnight September 2nd.

Good luck

Competition: Kenwood House concert tickets

LIVE BY THE LAKE, the hotly anticipated series of outdoor summer concerts at Kenwood House, marks the welcome return of the English Heritage concert season. Produced by the young dynamic agency, Rouge Events, Live By The Lake’s outstanding lineup of world class music is scheduled over six days: August 23-25 and August 30-September 1; each show promises to attract up to 10,000 music and film lovers to enjoy the music and share a picnic with friends and family in more than 100 acres of Kenwood House’s beautifully landscaped gardens.

Suede kick off the season on August 23rd

Boasting the perfect mix of pop, rock, soul, classical, musical theatre and film, LIVE BY THE LAKE promises something special for every music lover in the land. Tickets are now on sale at and there are a limited number of discounts for residents in many of London’s northwest postal districts.

Ticket holders will be able to choose a variety of reasonably priced tickets for each concert and to decide whether or not to bring their own picnic and all-weather paraphernalia! For those who want to rock up unhampered, the best of Carluccio’s Italian picnics can be ordered in advance and picked up on the day of each orchestral concert. (NB: Suede and Keane concerts will be standing room only, so picnics and chairs should be left at home and a range of drinks and delicious food will be available from the on-site concession stands).

COMPETITION: We have three pairs of tickets to give away. You can choose which concert you’d like to attend. To enter, just e-mail your name and contact phone number to . The deadline is 5pm on July 26th and winners will be announced immediately.

Here’s the full programme:
August 23rd: Suede, with special guests British Sea Power
August 24th: Royal Choral Society and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra
August 25th: Keane and special guest Laura Mvula
August 30th: Singin’ in the Rain – film screening, score performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra
August 31st: Ana Maria Martinez and the English National Opera Orchestra
September 1st: Michael Ball and friends sing Gershwin

Sponsored by Live By The Lake / Rouge Events

Logo competition: Local forum seeks identity

The local Neighbourhood Development Forum should get the all-clear from Camden council next month, which means it can go full steam ahead with drafting the actual plan.

The experience of other Neighbourhood Development Plans is that strong visual imagery helps people understand what the NDF is all about, and having a unifying logo for all communications is A Good Idea.

To that end (and because while the government is all for localism it doesn’t want to actually give any money to help), the NDF is holding a competition to design its logo. The winning entry will get glory, fame and a meal for two at The Kitchen Table.

Naturally, the NDF would love any local graphic designers to get involved in this community project, despite the lack of funds for payment – though any non-professional budding artists are also very welcome to enter. There may also be the opportunity for some follow-up paid work, as a small amount of funding may come available in a few months, but no promises on that score.

Here’s the brief, which as you’ll see, leaves plenty of room for artistic interpretation.

  • The name of the organisation is “Fortune Green and West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum” although it’s likely to be referred to as just the “West Hampstead NDF”
  • The logo will be used on all communications: e-mail, twitter, leaflets, posters, banners etc – so it needs to be fairly flexible and work on a small and large scale.
  • There’s no set colour or font, but again, the font and colour scheme are likely to be used widely.
  • The committee feels that it should reflect both the traditional and modern aspects of the area, especially given the developments being built around the stations and the fact that the development plan may not be “anti-development” per se.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 13th May, please mail your entry to the committee at and contact them for any more details.

To find out more about what the forum is trying to achieve, check out its website or read more of my articles on its evolution over the past few months.

Olympic History: COMPETITION

Next Wednesday, July 4th, local author and sports historian Simon Inglis will be at West End Lane Books together with Dr Martin Polley to talk about when the Olympics came to West Hampstead, drawing on Polley’s new book “The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic Heritage 1612-2012“.

The event is free, but please contact West End Lane Books if you’d like to attend as space is scarce ().

In the meantime, you can win a copy of the book (worth £17.99) courtesy of West Hampstead Life. You just need to answer a simple question.

Which village was the site of the first games of the post-classical era to adopt the formal title “Olimpick”?

To enter, just with the subject line “Olympic Quiz”, and include your answer and name. Winners will be drawn Tuesday the 3rd.

Good luck – it shouldn’t take too much sleuthing to find the answer!

Get snapping for Thameslink

We’re only a few months away from the new Thameslink station opening on Iverson Road. To mark the occasion, Network Rail is running a photography competition. The winning photographs will be reproduced and displayed at the station for all to see.

The theme – not incredibly original, one has to say – is “Connections”. Photographers can interpret the theme as they see fit, with entries falling into two categories, under 16 and open.

Tim Galvani, Network Rail project manager, said: “Passengers are really going to benefit from the opening of the new station and will get the chance to see the picture gallery on the back of the new Iverson Road wall. It’s a great space that will be seen by everyone that travels to and through the station.”

To enter, fill in this form. You can either send digital copies of your photos on a disk or USB stick or e-mail them, together with the entry form to . Closing date for entries is 30th October 2011.

Do you know where it is yet?

When I was asked to review a book about London architectural landmarks, I immediately handed over responsibility to local architecture fiend Lauren. She’s starting work on her own exciting project about the Kilburn State, and seemed the perfect person. We also have a copy of the book to give away if you can tackle our slightly challenging local buildings quiz below. But first, here’s Lauren’s review:

“Those striking caricature-style illustrations of London landmarks that have been appearing on ceramics and tea towels for a while now, have found their way into a book. ‘London Buildings – An Architectural Tour‘ by Robin Farquhar and Hannah Dipper (pub. Batsford) is a neat collection of 45 illustrations by People Will Always Need Plates, the company behind the stylised line drawings of the likes of the Barbican and the Trellick tower.

The bright orange cover (looking almost like a stylish record sleeve) features beloved London landmark Battersea Power Station, and fairly accurately reflects the entire contents of the book. Bright, simple black and white graphic descriptions of the best of this city’s architecture; from 16th Century Classicism to 1960s Brutalism and everything in between. Locally, there are some brilliant examples of Modernism in Hampstead at 66 Frognal and its neighbour, the 1930s Sun House.

The big, bright blocks of colour and minimal text set the book out as a good introduction to London’s showcase buildings, with an eclectic selection including tube stations and gas towers. With minimal detail and lack of background distractions, these drawings are clearly intended to get you thinking about how you read the built environment. The unique illustration style is what makes this quirkier than your average photo-filled coffee table architecture book – it would make a great gift or a fun ‘beginers guide’ for exploring London’s architectural history.”

Quiz time
Interest piqued? Good. To win your own pristine copy of London Buildings all you need to do is correctly identify the name or location of the nine local landmarks pictured below. Some are easy, one or two are a little trickier. Click on the image to see a much bigger version, which might help (or not).

It’s possible no-one will get all nine, so even if you only have 7 or 8 it’s probably worth a bash. The person with the most correct answers wins, and if there’s more than one of you then the winner will be decided on a tiebreaker judged by Lauren and me.

Tiebreaker: In no more than 15 words tell us your favourite local landmark building and why.

Congrats to Ian Farrar who correctly identified all the photos below. 1) Clock by Kilburn Grange park, 2) Wet Fish Cafe, 3) Cholmley Gardens, 4) Swiss Cottage Library, 5) West Hampstead library, 6) Sidney Boyd Court, 7) Czech National House, 8) West Hampstaed tube station, and 9) Kilburn State.

Ian’s favourite building is Lately’s “for its enlightened door policy of turning people away for not being drunk enough”.

Competition time: Giraffe opening in Belsize Park

Family-friendly world food restaurant chain Giraffe is opening in Belsize Park (taking over the old Tootsies).
Very kindly, it’s given me 3 invitations for dinner for two on Thursday Jan 28th – opening week.
“How do i get my hands on these invitations?” I hear you ask.
“Simple”, I reply, “but you’re going to have to be quick off the mark.”
Take and tweet a photo that includes both a giraffe and something recognisably West Hampstead. You MUST (and this is important) use the #whampgiraffe hashtag in your tweet. So, for example, a giraffe soft toy getting on the Jubilee Line, or a cut-out giraffe in the window of West End Lane Books. Use your imagination.
I will then pick the best three in consultation with @giraffetweet.
Deadline: 5pm Wednesday January 20th
If the free meal wasn’t incentive enough, then you’ll be even more excited to know that I’ll be there that evening too*. I know!
*Giraffe has kindly given me these invitations to give away to fellow whampers, and has also generously invited me along too.