The Garden Museum in London is running an architectural competition for the design of a pavilion for St Mary’s Gardens, a leafy enclave next to its premises in a converted church in Lambeth, south London. I am a member of the interview panel. The winner has yet to be chosen, but I can reveal that it won’t be a submission from one Minecraft builder that shows a blue-tinged skyscraper that occupies the entire footprint of the garden.
It comes with a justification based on the menace of “very bad” grey squirrels to Britain’s ecology: “How do we stop grey squirrel[s]?” it asks. “Squirrels eat nuts. Nuts grow on trees… if we remove the trees we stop the grey squirrels,” the submission explains. So “to remove trees we build a big tower. It will also sell for a lot of money because it’s so big.” It ends with a sop to whoever might be troubled by the loss of green space: “It can also have a garden on the roof.” It’s meant to be a joke and, as I say, it won’t win. But it deserves some kind of a prize: as a parody of the bogus arguments whereby towers are allowed to trample over British cities, it’s genius.
Think of how much of Surrey can be saved if we put a big tower in a couple of acres of Lambeth…..