The London Festival of Architecture was a month-long celebration and exploration of the city's buildings, streets and spaces - with over 600 exhibitions, lectures, public space installations, guided walks, bicycle rides, boat tours, parties, design workshops and debates.
SkyWalk, commissioned by New London Architecture, launched the Bloomsbury Hub of the festival on 4 July. The 160m long installation zigzagged across Montague Place, WC1, creating a series of new public spaces directly behind the British Museum, staging performances, exhibitions and events over three days including: open-air theatre by students from RADA (Much Ado About Nothing and Gargantua), a continuous picnic of locally produced food and music from University of London School of Oriental and African Studies world orchestras.
Designed by one of the UK’s most exciting young architecture practices, Carmody Groarke, SkyWalk broke down the accepted notion of the street merely as a means of getting from A to B. The street was reinterpreted as a series of places formed by the changing height, shape and profile of the temporary promenade.
SkyWalk rose up to four metres at its peak and knitted into the existing landscape – plane trees punctured the stage and landmarks such as the British Museum and Senate House were used as focal points. The meandering form took pedestrians on a journey allowing them to explore the architectural detail of the surrounding buildings and providing never-before experienced views of two of London’s finest examples of landscaping and green public space - Bedford and Russell Square.
SkyWalk was built over three days, constructed of a portable staging system chosen not just for speed but also so that the materials can be reused. It is covered in a translucent black mesh, which gives the ramped walkway a sculptural quality.
Charcoalblue provided advice on the audience and performer capacity of the performance spaces in various formats, along with seating configurations, staging sizes and sightlines.