diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 12, 2015

Way back in 2006, before the Dome reopened as an oxygen molecule, its PR agents were in full steam.
"When you come to The O2, you’ve got to Do Peninsula Square - as soon as you arrive, you’ll be amazed by the vibrancy of the outside space and surrounding area at The O2. It covers an area the size of Leicester Square and will be just as exciting."
Yeah right.



In 2015 we are perhaps finally able to judge how successful the Leicestersquareification of Peninsula Square has been. This is the open space between the tube station and the O2's entrance. Someone did a great job on the paving for the reopening, with dozens of time-related facts and quotations engraved along lines of slabs. A sharp metal point rises up near to where a fountain doesn't play, and a string of multicoloured towers has since sprung up, the first fruits of the peninsula's intended urban forest. More recently craft beer fanciers can sup pints at the Meantime pop-up - alas resolutely empty when I passed at the weekend. One constant since 2007 is the parade of brand names emblazoned on banners above the curved rainshield canopy, currently including such much-loved sponsors as Sky, Credit Suisse and E-lites. The O2's sponsors have also supplanted the musical timeline that used to run alongside, any mission to entertain and inform replaced by an intention to promote.

But possibly the biggest difference to Peninsula Square's entertainment offering is the recent appearance of two curved glass buildings where the green wall used to be. These are the Gateway Pavilions, a twin space linked by a ribbed wooden canopy, and opening up the square's perimeter with a catering and exhibition vibe. A nice touch is that the tenants in the food and drink pavilion aren't multinational chains, although the two dining options are perhaps a little posher than the exterior suggests.
• At Craft, modern artisans will work with acclaimed chef Stevie Parle on roasting the coffee beans sourced direct from Colombia, on building a smokehouse and curing meats, on slow-fermenting sourdoughs and keeping bees.
• Manager Alice Bernigaud’s background at the city’s 28:50 and Bistro du Vin, coupled with the input of master sommelier Gearoid Devaney, mean that the recently-launched Greenwich Kitchen benefits from a wealth of oenological knowledge. Its menu, spanning cheese and charcuterie, light nibbles and substantial mains, is designed to complement a carefully selected wine list.
In reality, Craft's website is so behind the times that Today's Special is a mince pie, while the Greenwich Kitchen charges ten quid for a Full English Breakfast and twenty quid for its cheapest bottle of wine. I suspect a Starbucks or a Caffe Nero would have been less empty.



In the second of the Gateway Pavilions is the NOW Gallery. I was initially surprised to hear that an art gallery was being built at the heart of the Greenwich peninsula, although the initial signs seemed good. The gallery would host a series of three-monthly commissions each supporting an up-and-coming artist, there'd be a regular cinema night on the last Friday of the month, and all of this would be free to visit. Had I been more circumspect, the following PR outburst should perhaps have worried me more.
Jemima Burrill, NOW Gallery curator, said “Our aim is to have installations not yet dreamed using the gallery as a catalyst. The space is a unique canvas for artists, sculptors, fashion designers, graphic artists and creatives to conjure up exhibits that are playful, inspiring and that bring alive our unconventional gallery space. Thinking out of the box and filling the space in an alternative way is what we are looking for in future commissions.”
On entering the NOW Gallery you're met by a receptionist sat behind a desk stacked with a handful of leaflets. She has very little to do, the gallery's not exactly overrun with visitors, with almost all the potential footfall striding past on the way towards something that looks open. "You can look round the downstairs," I was told, so turned left to view Robert Orchardson's 'Aperture'. The blurb had made his artwork sound interesting, a sculptural reimagining of William's Herschel's scientific paraphernalia. But the "composite sculptural forms and large scale cyanotypes" turned out to be a few bluey-white shapes and metal rings leaning against two curved concrete walls, and nothing more. I almost spent two minutes looking, and then I was done.

At the other end of the elongated space is a stronger clue as to why the NOW Gallery exists. This is the Greenwich Peninsula Model, a plastic plinth whose shape follows the curve of the river, on top of which appear a collection of architectural representations.
"Playful cast resin blocks map out Lower Riverside. Dichroic diamonds punch out the ‘urban’ end of the district at Upper Riverside, beside the silvered dome of The O2. The towers of Meridian Quays are recreated in folded brass sheeting. Soft living moss relieves the built environment as Central Park, and glowing neon tubing picks a way through as the surrounding running track."
If the composition was supposed to be geographical then I confess I missed this at the time, perhaps confused by the dipped rubber Canary Wharf and Big Ben where the Blackwall Tunnel ought to be, and the miniature cablecar with model cabins rising gently to the ceiling. It was perhaps the big grey arrow saying ENERGY CENTRE that gave the game away, revealing that this isn't a cute model village for the 21st century, it's a developers's tool for flogging apartments to prospective buyers.



Upstairs in this Gateway Pavilion, where you don't go without an appointment, is the floor for wooing clients. Here's where you come if you've registered for a studio flat, penthouse or maisonette, to the public-facing marketing suite for Knight Dragon Developments Ltd. Expect some coffee, a video and a glossy brochure, all hoping to entice you to book your place within a wall of matchbox towers. There's even a showflat tucked away inside the Pavilion where the focus is on modern designed furniture and fabrics rather than building quality, because as yet anything you might be thinking of buying is little more than foundations.
"Greenwich Peninsula hopes to rival Shoreditch or Bermondsey in its variety of cafes, bars, artists’ studios, performance venues and green space. Homogenising aesthetic concepts are shunned to create five distinct districts and a rich sense of community across 10,000 new homes and a range of price points."
It was always the plan for the Millennium Dome to kickstart a raft of residential development on the peninsula, and 15 years later that impetus might finally have reached a tipping point. But if the Gateway Pavilions are anything to go by, don't expect much in the way of grassroots culture, just some parachuted cuisine and a tokenistic sculpture space which exists solely so that the developers can say "woo, we've got an art gallery". The future is NOW, if London's not more careful.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv