Public Space Crawl
Unscene Architecture were invited to lead a series of walking tours around London as part of the Architecture Foundation’s City Crit series. Building on our interest and research into privatised public space, we reimagined the city tour as a public space crawl. Starting in Bedford Square, these tours delve into a sequence of historically privatised public spaces – including garden squares, public houses and public toilets – before concluding at a pub to continue the conversation. In World War II the railings around garden squares were removed to be melted down for ammunition, though they were never actually used for this. This led to garden squares opening up and becoming meeting grounds, and many texts from the time talk about how they were transformed into spaces for social exchange. In 1944, George Orwell wrote in the Tribune “The parks were improved out of recognition by being laid open, acquiring a friendly, almost rural look that they had never had before.”* However, when the war ended many of the squares were re-enclosed, making them private once again.
*To find out more about the removal of the railings, read Catalina Pollak Williamson's 2015 book 'Outsider: Public Art and the Politics of the English Garden Square' or visit her website: www.publicinterventions.org/work/phantom-railings