Saturday, 26 October 2013

Radical Spaces and Not So Radical Spaces in Stratford

Last weekend I went to the Radical Space Conference at the University of East London (UEL). The conference was held at the new building in the centre of Stratford that UEL share with Birkbeck based in University Square (see above), located right near the Theatre Royal. When booking my hotel online - the Ibis - I noticed it had a similar address to a building I used to work in in Stratford in the late 1980s. This was Solar House, 1-9 Romford Road and the Ibis is 1a Romford Road. So I really didn’t know what to expect when I got there.

When I arrived at my hotel, I found it had been stuck on the end just before Solar House (see above), hence the 1a extra number. Solar House used to be at the very beginning of Romford Rd, even as far back as 2000 when I used to power-walk down there, from Leytonstone. So, it appears that they’ve made a bit of extra space out of the one-way system and stuck on it the Ibis, Nandos, etc. Although, once you’ve seen the new space, it’s really hard to remember exactly what it looked like before.

I walked around the outside of my old office block, Solar House. It hasn’t fared too well and looks old and scruffy, although I’m pretty sure they have built that extra glass-fronted section recently, which improves it somewhat. It’s being rented for £16/square foot and according to a commercial rental site it is currently being refurbished. Wikimapia shows a good aerial shot of the two buildings next to each other. It was a little spooky revisiting a place I worked over 20 years ago, although I was only there for 10 months before being relocated to Wallington in Surrey, miles away from where I lived at the time, in Edmonton.

I didn’t get a chance to inspect the Olympic Park or the new shopping centre at Stratford (Westfield), which you can see from the train station and which dominates the area. I thought it had a quirky retro font and I wondered why the branding team chose it…

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