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Waterfront London - New London Architecture

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WATERFRONT London, a new exhibition that rediscovers the rivers and canals of London, runs from January 10 to February 23, 2008 at New London Architecture.

Waterfront London looks at London’s complex and changing relationship with water. The exhibition and programme of related talks illustrate and discuss key developments – including the Olympic Park – where water-side context plays an important role in design, set against the context of climate change and the potential of flooding.

The River Thames runs for 42 miles within Greater London, and there are around 100 miles of canal corridor, covering 270 hectares. As part of the 2004 London Plan, the Mayor created The Blue Ribbon Network Strategy – a set of policies intended to protect and regenerate London’s waterways, encouraging greater access and laying out a framework for its safe and sustainable future.

The exhibition will identify the key developments along London’s rivers, canals and docks – for example large-scale masterplans such as the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley, which encompasses the Olympic Park (there are plans for 31 bridges across the 8.35km of waterways in the Olympic Park); Prescott Lock, that will control the water level above Three Mills allowing up to 1.75m tonnes of construction materials to be brought by barge to the Olympic site; Baca Architects innovative extreme sports centre that includes surfing and diving facilities; as well as small-scale interventions including Sarah Wigglesworth Architects’ Riverside Centre in Chelsea to community moorings and houseboats in Wapping.

Allied to the exhibition are a series of high profile debates (the breakfast talks programme) questioning why waterside regeneration has become so popular. Issues include how real is the threat of flooding in London and are current policies doing enough to protect and enhance the City’s waterways?

Breakfast is available from 8am and all talks start at 8.30am. Confirmed speakers include:

Richard Everitt, Port of London Authority – January 16.
George Nicholson, London Rivers Association – January 23.
Mark Bensted, British Waterways – January 30.
Robert Runcie, Environment Agency – February 6,
Murad Qureshi, London Waterways Commission – February 13.
David Marks, Marks Barfield Architects – February 20.

Peter Ackroyd, the author, will open the exhibition on January 9, 2008 (6.30 – 9.30pm) and will be signing copies of his most recent book Thames: Sacred River.

Waterfront London is produced in association with British Waterways London and sponsored by URS.

New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT.

Opening times: Monday to Friday – 9am to 6pm; Saturday – 10am to 5pm.

Admission: Free.

For more information call 020 7636 4044 or visit the website.