A folly for London

Participatory activism

A satirical interjection to oppose and raise awareness around the planned Garden Bridge in central London. It comprised of a free-to-enter and open-to-all competition to design a new dystopian architecture to be sited on the public land which would be lost to the private Garden Bridge should it have been constructed.

I asked the public to explore their own creativity and anger to see if they could conjure up a proposal which was absurd, environmentally damaging, wasteful and anti-democratic as the actual Garden Bridge, offering a platform for people to engage with critical ideas of the built environment and political repurcussions.

Entries came in from across the world and the project garnered attention across mainstream, architecture and art media including in La Repubblica, The Guardian, Dezeen and Apollo. Importantly it helped raise awareness in both the public and media of the many issues including environmenal damage and greenwash, democratic dodginess, loss to heritage and privatisation of public space.

The judges were Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, architectural writer Owen Hatherley, political cartoonist Martin Rowson, and myself, and we decided that the overall winning entry was “Green Fire of London”, an eternal flame dedicated to the spirit of 21st century developers, by Ben Weir. Selected other entries are shown below.

Runners up and greenwash prizes were also awarded in a competition which were installed in an public exhibition and also published across media including  The Guardian, The Independent, De Architect NL, Dezeen, Apollo & La Repubblica, helping communicate the political, ethical and ecological issues of the proposed development using creativity, wit, humour and participation.

My involvement with activism against the project didn’t stop with organisation of A Folly for London, but continued for three more years under the A Bridge Too Far branding. Within print and social media, behind the scenes researching and investigating, in discussions with local and national MPs, filing evidence to inquiries, public speaking, guerrilla gardening and organising cultural activities including a walking tour for the London Festival of Architecture, I was prominantly involved in opposition to the controversial development through to its eventual cancellation late in 2017.