Opposition to Garden Bride Ramps Up With Satirical Competition


As controversy carries on over the notorious Garden Bridge by Heatherwick Studio proposed for London’s South Bank, some opposers of the project are expressing their discontent with good ol’ British satire in the soon-to-be-launched “Folly for London” competition.

Conceived by artist Will Jennings, who has a working background in architecture, the open, free-to-enter design competition will welcome follies that propose an alternative “but equally ridiculous” design that rivals the current Garden Bridge proposal.

For starters, the competition organizers give a very clear idea on what types of designs they’ll be on the lookout for: absurd, illogical, egotistic, obtrusive, daft, inappropriate, and wasteful (You get the point).

On the other hand, the competition isn’t spiteful toward Thomas Heatherwick, whose firm designed the Garden Bridge. In a Building UK article, Jennings emphasized that “he was not criticising Heatherwick himself, saying: ‘I have a lot of time for his designs, his creativity and the energy he has put into increasing interest in good architecture and design.'”

Architecture writer Owen Hatherley is reportedly going to be one of the competition judges. However, full official competition details, deadlines, and prizes are yet to be revealed.

A full explanatory statement from Jennings follows below:

Details of the competition will be announced in due course and we will seek entries from across professional architectural and design circles, established and amateur artists, citizens of London and anyone else with an interest in the capital – adults and children alike – before a panel of judges, including architecture writer Owen Hatherley, will meet to decide the best follies.

The website is not only intended as a ‘home’ for the competition, with details being added as we get closer to the launch, but will also have writings and responses to the many issues around the city, politics, finances and architecture which are raised by the problematic Garden Bridge project.

While we will invite crazy, ridiculous and satirically nonsensical projects and ask people to explore their own creativity and ideas, this project aims to raise awareness of the genuine absurdity of The Garden Bridge alongside aesthetic threats to the city, financial repercussions and flaws in the democratic process.

Both politics and the built environment share a common feeling amongst the population that they are things which happen to them without genuine agency or engagement in the processes by which they come about. Through this project we seek to offer a platform for people to actively consider the politics and public space which directly affects them and, through thinking about the absurd and what can ruin a place, will help draw attention to what they perceive to be great about London and that which is worth saving.”

— Anna Kats (@coldwarcasual)

Image courtesy Heatherwick Studio.