When someone says “Everyone is a critic,” they’re typically exaggerating. If architect Thomas Heatherwick is saying it now, it might actually seem true. A host of prominent British architects, novelists, and artists have expressed sharp—and public—criticism of Heatherwick’s proposed Garden Bridge project in London, which still awaits judicial review. Some have called the bridge project “crap” while others simply claim Heatherwick is the “wrong person” for the job.
Having an onslaught of public criticism published in The Guardian is somewhat akin to being sentenced by a jury of your peers. To death? Not likely. The Garden Bridge project is currently worth £175 million ($268 million) and the question of who will pay for it has been a moving target through the procurement process so far.
It’s important to understand that the criticisms are not solely in response to the actual design of Heatherwick’s lush green bridge. Alongside those criticizing the design itself are those attempting to make sense of the phenomenon of this harsh backlash. Will Hurst, deputy editor of the Architects’ Journal, feels that some of the criticism might be inspired by the fact that many in the architecture world believe the bridge has “sidestepped the normal rules of planning and procurement.”
That’s a reference to details released in the Observer related to accusations against British actress Joanna Lumley, best known for her role on “Absolutely Fabulous.” It seems Lumley is being accused of “charming” London mayor Boris Johnson into backing her dream project.
One of Inhabitat’s favorite architects, Zaha Hadid, lent her constructive criticism with a less sharp tongue than many of her colleagues. She said last week on BBC Newsnight. “[Heatherwick] is a colleague, and I will support him. It could be nice, it may not be–I don’t know. It would block the view, if I would have any criticism. But on the other hand, Blackfriars station blocks the view. And everything you do in a major city is a risk, but I think it might be sometimes worth taking it.”
Via The Guardian
Images via Heatherwick Studio