Shortlist announced for London Festival of Architecture ‘Modern Maypole’ competition

A red steel giant striding through London, a tower built by London school children, and a visual metaphor for London’s diversity are among the shortlisted entries revealed today for the London Festival of Architecture’s ‘Modern Maypole’ competition. The competition, organised by the festival in partnership with The Northbank BID, looks to create a contemporary maypole as a focus for public events and activity on The Strand during the London Festival of Architecture when it returns to the capital on 1-30 June 2018.

The six shortlisted practices and projects are:

Modern Maypole by Scale Rule
A maypole assembled of many individual components – wooden discs stacked to form a ringed patchwork tower, each decorated by a London primary school, and added to the maypole by the students themselves.

Colouful Language by Thomas Randall Page with Benedetta Rogers and Cake Industries
This maypole celebrates London’s diversity with dozens of differently coloured ribbons, each representing a language spoken in the city, connecting a map of London suspended overhead and joining together at the tip of the maypole.

The Dreamcatcher by Spheron Architects
Colourful ribbons from a traditional-style maypole fall over a latticed structure at the base: a dreamcatcher net suspended over a seating area within the ribbons, with views upwards through the net and ribbons.

Maypole by Interrobang
A slender spire supporting a colourful suspended net, which can be illuminated at night. A seating area beneath contains a pattern of “ribbons” radiating from the base of the maypole.

Walking Tall – The Londoner by Hardman Structural Engineers and Studio Verve
A bright red steel giant, striding along The Strand. Almost as high as the neighbouring spire of St Mary-le-Strand, the figure will be seen above the skyline when viewed from a distance.

Maypole by ScottWhitbystudio and Whitby Wood
A tall tensegrity structure, forming a lightweight pylon that rises above the neighbouring rooftops, constructed of slender rods held together with thin cables, with a framework shape that is reminiscent of the neighbouring church spire.

The Modern Maypole competition looks back to London’s built tradition, and aims to create a temporary landmark for the 2018 London Festival of Architecture that can act as a focal point for visitors and passers-by. In keeping with the London Festival of Architecture 2018 ‘identity’ theme, the project will also explore contemporary expressions of communal identity and shared experience. The maypole will stand outside the church of St Mary-le-Strand: the site of London’s largest maypole which was constructed after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and towered over the 17th century city. In 2018 the Modern Maypole will stand in a transformed cityscape, a reminder of how radically London’s skyline, character and identity have changed over the centuries.

The Modern Maypole competition was open to architects, artists, designers and engineers, and has been judged by a panel comprising:

Julia Barfield (managing director, Marks Barfield Architects)
Carole Boyd (actor, The Archers)
Megan Dixon (marketing and communications, The Northbank BID)
Andy Downey (director, Elliott Wood Partnership)
John Goodall (heritage expert and architecture editor, Country Life)
Jonathan Morrison (architecture correspondent, The Times)
Jonathan Reekie (director, Somerset House Trust)
Tamsie Thomson (director, London Festival of Architecture)

The winner of the Modern Maypole competition will be announced in early December.

Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture said:

“Just as the London Festival of Architecture encourages people to look at London in different ways, the shortlisted Modern Maypole practices have brought fresh eyes and approaches to a very traditional object. The quality and variety of the entries has been a real showcase for London’s architectural talent, and we’re very excited about choosing a winner to be installed in June when the maypole on The Strand rises once again.”

Ruth Duston, chief executive of The Northbank BID said:

“The community around the Northbank is a diverse one, yet very strong together in its shared identity of ingenuity and creativity. We’re delighted with the proposals, all of which will enliven the space on Strand-Aldwych that acts as a stepping stone between international centres of innovation. With more permanent plans to transform this area’s public realm, this is the first step and will help businesses and visitors alike to engage with the space in a new and fun way.”