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Art can bring meaning to buildings and spaces…

I had a Banksy on one of my buildings once. It was the old Transport for London depot on the corner of Charterhouse Street and Lindsey Street. For the London Festival of Architecture in 2006, TfL loaned us the building. Just as the decorators were about to slap a coat of white paint over the grimy exterior, we discovered half a dozen Banksy rats stencilled onto the render, gnawing holes in the concrete along the Charterhouse Street frontage. The decorators were instructed to paint around the murals.

After the festival, the building was handed back to TFL, and not long after that they boarded it up ready for demolition and the construction of the new Crossrail station. I often wish I had got out a chisel and hacked the rats off before the bulldozers went in. Perhaps there's some savvy demolition worker with a Banksy rat on his mantelpiece.

For those interested in the relationship between architecture and ‘proper’ art, they need look no further than Vivien Lovell and her Clerkenwell consultancy Modus Operandi. Vivien’s been at the leading edge of art, architecture and placemaking since the Eighties. She’s commissioned artists like Alexander Beleschenko, Mark Wallinger and Rachel Whiteread to collaborate with architects to bring meaning and delight to buildings and surrounding spaces.

I became a piece of street art myself (see above) thanks to Domus Tiles who invited Greg Shapter and AModels to create a 3-D, single point perspective
portrait on a wall on the car park behind the Hat and Feathers. As you walk along Clerkenwell Road, abstract forms coalesce to create a convincing likeness. That’s art!

Peter Murray is Chairman of NLA: London’s Centre for the Built Environment


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