July 29, 2013
by Jessica Karsten

Almost 3 weeks in and I feel like I’ve seen so much of the city already!  Although there’s so much to do here that I’ve barely scratched the surface.

On the Royal Liverpool Hospital project, we are working with an affiliate architecture firm who is doing certain parts of the hospital while HKS is doing others.  I was able to get a chance to work in their office for a few days which was great to be able to see another office and their work and to meet other architects.  I feel lucky to have been able to experience both offices, which are in equally interesting parts of the city.  I wrote a little about the Soho area where the HKS office is located.  This other office is located in the Shad Thames area of London, which is right near a long, very busy pedestrian walk that runs all along the Thames river.  It’s right near the Tower Bridge and the Southbank area.  In this area you find many of the major attractions along the river, which is also known as the Queens walk.  You have Tower Bridge, the London Tower, the London Bridge, the London Eye, the old London Fair buildings which are now galleries and museums, Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament are also in this area, along with Renzo Piano’s The Shard, the tallest building in the EU.  There’s just so much in this area which stretches for miles along the river.  I took a long walk along the river and in addition to these amazing landmarks there were a ton of street performers, musicians, restaurants and bars, food stands and exhibitions, more than I could hope to see in the 3 months that I’m here, that’s for sure!  It was so lively, definitely an amazing experience.

Here are a few pics and videos of life on the river front.

Southbank2

Southbank3

Southbank4

Southbank5

Southbank6

The first week I was here there were a group of female protesters that climbed The Shard building in protest of the proposed Arctic drilling.  When I went out for lunch that day I actually saw them near the top of the building, it was a scary sight!  The police of course were at the bottom waiting for them when they were done, but it was a hot topic of conversation for awhile so they made their point, that’s for sure.

The Shard

Shard

Here’s a link to a quick video about it;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2013/jul/12/greenpeace-climbing-london-shard-video

And here’s the story of these brave women;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23266281

I also found out some amusing history about London Bridge.  My first day in the other office, I took the tube to a station near the tower of London, and had to walk across Tower bridge, which I’m a little embarrassed to say that I mistakenly thought was London bridge!  It’s definitely an icon, and recognizable by many as a symbol of London, but it was in fact Tower Bridge rather than London Bridge.  Then I was told the story of the millionaire Robert McCulloch who bought London Bridge, the city was selling it because it was not sound enough to support the increased traffic load.  So in 1962 the bridge was dismantled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Well apparently Robert McCulloch also made the same mistake and thought we was buying Tower Bridge!  I can imagine how surprised he was when London Bridge showed up, which is considerably less dramatic than Tower BridgeJ.  But London Bridge does have an interesting history, it was originally a living bridge in the 1600’s, and has been rebuilt and re-imagined many times since then.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_bridge

Tower Bridge

TowerBridge

London Bridge

LondonBridge

There’s a fight currently going on right now in the city in regards to a skate park that’s located in this Southbank area.  It’s just a small spot underneath a building that’s covered with graffiti and used by many local kids and their skateboards.  It’s a nice addition to the life of the river front, and it draws locals and tourist alike.  You can usually see crowds of people that congregate around to watch the skaters do their thing, it’s a fun and interesting thing to see.  The city had plans to get rid of the skate park and refurbish the area and turn it into high-rent retail units.  Skaters and local communities alike are trying to fight against making this into a massive shopping center, which would not be a good transformation for this area which is a very charming, and still a very small and local scale.  There are petitions going around now so we’ll see who wins this fight between the big business and local community!

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/shutting-down-south-bank-skate-park

SkatePark

I also went to the really popular Borough Market in Southbank my first weekend.  It was a lot of fun, and really dangerous because it’s so easy to spend all your money!  It’s located under a bridge which makes for a unique atmosphere, and it was packed!  There are food stalls with everything from Paella to kabobs, and all kinds of stands with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, nuts, mushrooms, pastries and breads, anything you could want!  I ate a delicious chorizo sandwich which is famous in the market apparently.  I had to get the chorizo since it reminded me of MiamiJ.

BoroughMarket

Oh, and maybe you heard about the royal baby that was born J  Pretty cool experience to be here for that!

More to come soon!  Cheers!   Jess