10 unusual parks or gardens in London…4. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden…

PICTURE: Courtesy of VisitLondon.com

This garden can be found on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.

The 1,200 square metre garden, which was created in 2011 as part of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations, was developed in partnership with the Eden Project.

It is maintained by volunteers from Grounded Ecotherapy, a group which offers people dealing with issues like homelessness and addiction help through horticulture.

The Garden features more than 200 wild native plants as well as a lawn, paths and paving – and stunning views across the river. There’s also a cafe and bar.

WHERE: Queen Elizabeth hall Roof Garden (nearest Tube stations are Waterloo and Embankment); WHEN: Wednesday to Sunday from noon; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/visit/outdoor/queen-elizabeth-hall-roof-garden-cafe-bar.

This Week in London – Art hits Westminster streets; Open House London now a nine day celebration; and, historic sites recognised for Festival of Britain anniversary…

Inside Out Festival launch at The National Gallery. PICTURE: Nyla Sammons

Reproductions of some of The National Gallery’s most famous works have appeared on Trafalgar Square’s North Terrace as part of the City of Westminster’s ‘Inside Out’ festival. The life-sized replicas include Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888), Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire (1839), Botticelli’s Venus and Mars (1485), Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (1520-3) and John Constable’s The Hay Wain (1821). The display is being accompanied by ‘Sketch in the Square’, a programme of free, daily alfresco art activities with a strong emphasis on mindfulness and wellbeing. Other events in the Inside Out festival include the ‘Tusk Lion Trail’ in which 22 life-sized lion sculptures take visitors on a journey to trail some of the West End’s most iconic landmarks, a immersive light installation by artist Chila Burman at Covent Garden’s historic Market Building, and ‘Art of London’, in which five Royal Academy artists have brought their art to Piccadilly Circus and its surrounding streets. The ‘Inside Out’ festival is part of the ‘Westminster Reveals’ campaign which aims to encourage visitors to return to the city’s streets and enjoy the city’s cultural scene. For more on ‘Inside Out’ – which runs until 31st October, see www.westminster.gov.uk/insideout.

Trellick Tower (courtesy of Open House London).

Usually held over a weekend, Open House London is this year a nine day celebration of London’s architecture and urban landscapes. Highlights this year include the chance to see inside 10 Downing Street, Ernő Goldfinger’s brutalist landmark Trellick Tower (pictured), a street of self-build timber houses in Lewisham and a former Victorian workhouse which has been transformed into a homeless shelter in Camden. There’s also the first chance to see a new design district in Greenwich, a yet to be opened community centre in Holborn and a special focus on the capital’s pubs and breweries. The full programme for the festival – which runs from 4th to 12th September and features hundreds of events – is now available online. For full listings, see www.openhouselondon.org.uk/2021.

Historic sites and objects related to the landmark 1951 Festival of Britain have been officially recognised to mark the event’s 70th anniversary. The London sites include Calvary Charismatic Baptist Church in Tower Hamlets, built as part of the ‘live’ architectural exhibition of the Festival of Britain, which has seen its heritage listing upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*. Among the sites which have had their listings updated are: Royal Festival Hall which was designed by the London County Council Architect’s Department as part of their contribution to the Festival of Britain; the Church of St John located just off the Waterloo roundabout which, struck by a bomb during World War II, remained damaged until 1950 when the interior was remodelled in a neo-Georgian style for the festival; and, the Newbury Park Bus Station Canopy, which was designed with a high arched, open structure in what has been described as the modernist ‘Festival style’. The Festival of Britain, which ran from May to September, 1951, was a national exhibition and fair aimed at promoting British design, science, technology, architecture, industry, and the arts. Held in the aftermath of World War II, one of its key aims was to help foster a national sense of recovery.

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Lost London – The Dome of Discovery…

The Skylon and the Dome of Discovery at the 1951 Festival of Britain PICTURE: Peter Benton (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/image cropped)

Built for the post-war Festival of Britain in 1951, the Dome of Discovery was a temporary exhibition building located in South Bank.

Designed by architect Ralph Tubbs, the dome was, with a diameter of 365 feet and a height of 93 feet, the largest in the world at the time. It was located next to the Skylon, another iconic structure built for the festival.

The prefabricated dome, which was made from aluminium and concrete, was filled with galleries which housed exhibitions around the overarching theme of discovery. The display was grouped under eight different sections including “the land”, “the sea”, “sky” and “outer space”. The dome also contained a 50 foot long mural on the theme of discovery by artist Keith Vaughan.

The dome was dismantled just 11 months after it was installed and sold for scrap metal (despite pleas from Tubbs and proposals for it to be relocated to places as diverse as Sao Paulo in Brazil and Coventry in England). Some of the metal was apparently made into souvenirs including commemorative paper knives.