Londonist is a regular visitor to New London Architecture, the exhibition space of the Building Centre on Store Street. Not only does it contain a remarkable 3-D model of the capital, complete with as-yet unbuilt skyscrapers, but it also swaps around the content of its exhibition area with dizzying regularity.
The latest incumbent is a tribute to the various estates that, since the 17th Century, have brought a sense of orderliness to parts of the capital. The largest of these include the Grosvenor (Mayfair, Belgravia, Pimlico), Cadogan (Chelsea), Howard De Walden (east Marylebone) and Portman (west Marylebone) areas, all large chunks of the metropolis developed by wealthy families. Wealthiest of all are the Royals, who still own the Crown Estate (places like Regent Street, and the Royal Parks). And then there’s the City Estate, whose surprising comprisements include Epping Forest, Bond Street and part of Tottenham Court Road.
The exhibition looks at each of these great estates in turn and showcases a few examples of how the estate system is still functioning and relevant today, if much diminished from its heyday. For example, the Crown Estate are currently modernising a number of their properties on Regent Street (you may have wondered about all the scaffolding). We were delighted to see a model of one such example (see picture), the Apple Store , venue of the recent Londonist blogging event.
One grumble. For a centre devoted to design and planning, whose idea was it to put all the maps well above head height? Fortunately, most of these are reproduced in the excellent accompanying booklet.
So, pop along when you get a chance and find out just whose land it is you‘re walking on.
Exhibition runs until 15 May and is free entry.