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Buildering at at Diespeker Wharf – London Festival of Architecture – July 20, 2008

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The London Festival of Architecture 2008 is a month long festival celebrating London’s architecture through a series of lectures, exhibitions, installations, seminars, street events and guided tours. It is one of the world’s major celebrations of architecture and the built environment.

This year’s Festival will run from 20 June to 20 July. It is based on the theme ‘Fresh!’ reflecting an interest in fresh thinking, fresh ideas, fresh air, and fresh food in the city – a pollution-free and sustainable London.

‘Buildering’ – climbing for a Fresh View

For the London Festival of Architecture 2008 Pollard Thomas Edwards architects will be hosting an ambitious interactive installation to explore a hidden London and provide exclusive access to the London skyline.

Organised and implemented by The Castle Climbing Centre with consultation from structural engineers Price & Myers this unique climbing event will enable people to scale our office building – a converted Victorian timber mill on the Regent’s Canal at Diespeker Wharf. Participants will gain a ‘fresh view’ of the built landscape around us and of the Canal where it disappears into the 1000-foot tunnel on its way to Kings Cross.

The circuit has been designed and facilitated by the Managing Director of The Castle Climbing Centre top international climber Audrey Seguy. The route will take participants from the street up the front of the building and over the roof. From here they will swing across the courtyard at high level to a loading bay, scramble up a net to the roof, and climb up the 90-foot industrial chimney. Few people will ever see the view from here across the Regent’s Canal and the newly developed City Road Basin towards the skyline of Central London. Participants can then abseil down and finally free-climb the Victorian crane located in the canalside courtyard.

Event details

The event will be held on Sunday 20 July between 10am and 6pm at Diespeker Wharf.

The climb has been planned and will be facilitated by trained climbing instructors from The Castle Climbing Centre in consultation with structural engineers Price & Myers. Participants will be equipped with Castle climbing gear and secured to safety lines or anchor points at all stages on the circuit – under direct supervision of instructors. The Castle estimates that it will take each person about 30 to 45 minutes to complete the full circuit. Participants will be able to leave the circuit at a number of points if they prefer.

There will be six to eight people on the circuit at any time and 100 tickets are available for the event. Tickets are on sale at the London Festival of Architecture website at:

Participation in the buildering event is subject to height and age restrictions (participants must be over 1.4 metres tall and at least nine years old; under-18s must have a signed parental consent form and have a parent/guardian present). Each participant will have to sign a participation form.

PTEaare also offering children the opportunity to climb a low bouldering wall erected in the canalside garden. It is a low wall which climbers traverse horizontally without the use of ropes, protected by crash mats at the wall’s base. The bouldering wall is suitable for children from four to seven years old.

Food and refreshments will be provided by local gastro pub The Charles Lamb throughout the day.

About Pollard Thomas Edwards architects (PTEa) —

PTEa was established in 1974 and has always had its main office in Islington. It is an award winning practice committed to making our towns and cities better places to live in. The practice combines high quality design with explicit social purpose and marries an understanding of whole community needs with an acute commercial instinct.

Our current headquarters at Diespeker Wharf is a Victorian canalside mill, which we bought in 1993 and converted into open-plan offices. The development won a Civic Trust Commendation in 2000.

The immediate vicinity of PTEa’s base at Diespeker Wharf is a kind of living workshop of urban regeneration which we have initiated: cross over to the towpath on the far side of the canal to see Crystal Wharf hanging over the lock; and further down Graham Street the newly completed City Wharf creates a new public garden on the City Road Basin, unlocking its potential as a resource in an area of the capital which has very little public open space. This project demonstrates how we combine high quality design with explicit social purpose.

Previous Involvement with the festival of Architecture

For the last Biennale Festival in 2006 PTEa collaborated with neighbours on the City Road Basin of the Regent’s Canal. All Change Arts, Hanover Primary School and The Islington Boat Club worked together to create links between this exciting area of London and the Biennale hub at Kings Cross. PTEa hosted a series of “watery” workshops exploring the myths and characters associated with Islington and in particular the nearby canal tunnel. The emerging stories were developed into a light and sound installation which was performed as visitors journeyed by canal boat through the mile-long Islington Tunnel in a day-long canal event.

BBC1 Radio presenter and London enthusiast Robert Elms gave an evening talk in our courtyard and brought the highly attended event to a close.

About Price & Myers – Structural Engineers —

Price & Myers have built a reputation for engineering geometrically and structurally complex projects. Their involvement ranges from schools to commercial and residential buildings but also art installations. Many of their jobs have received design awards, including RIBA and Civic Trust Awards.

For sculptor Richard Wilson, Price & Myers cut an eight-metre diameter ovoid section through the façade of the old Yates Wine Lodge in the centre of Liverpool. The section was removed and mounted onto a spindle which spun and oscillated in three dimensions giving the illusion that the building is being turned inside out. The work is in place throughout Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Event Horizon was the largest ever urban public art commission. It featured 31 large-scale sculptural casts of the artist Anthony Gormley’s body set on rooftops and public walkways in central London. Price & Myers worked with the installation contractor to design a wide variety of temporary fixing points to secure the sculptures in position.

About The Castle Climbing Centre —

The Castle Climbing Centre is run by High performance Sports Limited and is one of England’s premier indoor climbing centres as well as being the UK’s busiest. Housed within a magnificent Grade II Listed former Victorian pumping station in North London it was originally modelled on Edinburgh Castle.

The Castle contains over 300 climbing routes as well as some of the best and latest bouldering walls in Britain. An industry leading health and safety at height venue, The Castle is also used to deliver Industrial Rope Access courses and rescue courses for the London Fire Brigades’ elite rescue teams.

Rock climbing is a rapidly growing sport and there has been a marked increase in the number of people trying climbing in the UK in the last few years. In 2007 alone nearly one and a half thousand people decided to give climbing a go through one of the Castle’s “taster sessions” and about three thousand adults learnt to climb at the Centre. On average, one hundred more people a day used the Centre in 2007 as compared to 2005.

The Castle Climbing Centre’s Managing Director is top international competitive climber Audrey Seguy. Audrey is one of the top 30 women climbers in the world. She is the British Female Lead Climbing Champion 2008 (lead climbing, also known as difficulty climbing, involves climbing a route that becomes progressively more and more difficult – the highest participant wins) and will soon compete in the National bouldering championships. As part of the British Bouldering Team she competes internationally and is currently competing in the World Cup.