Category: London

Visions of the Elephant workshop

A very enjoyable design and drawing workshop run with 15 students from local High Schools in SE17 in December.

This was organised and run by the Architecture Foundation as an Education Project for Lend Lease.

I led the first workshop with Anna  in Dec 2013 called: Being Curious around the Elephant

These are the postcards that I made for the students (with some images of them working in each location), on our tour of the Elephant to explore the “visions” that have determined its architecture and layout from 1870 to the present day.


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Our day out in Elephant

“We started under the backside of the elephant. Strange to think this small but familiar statue has signposted this location for longer than the buildings around it. For the assembled group, they don’t know about Elephant & Castle as anything other that what we see today – a strange, neglected but convenient hangover from the past. Not important, somewhere to change bus fast – that’s all.

But, could we think about the Elephant in another way; more dynamic, always changing; a repository for new ideas & experiments? We wanted to explore the visions that shaped the Elephant from 1870 to the present day. Armed with postcards sent from the past and used to prompt discussions, we found evidence of how the Elephant has changed six times since 1870. In each location we drew the vision and discussed the ideas that generated it. We met contemporary residents, in homes from the 1890’s & the 1960’s, at ground level and ten floors up.

The drawings were important, an opportunity for individuals to become immersed, drawing differing visions and documenting the consequences of them. We swapped concertina sketchbooks in each location and ended the day with a series of compilations as busy, detailed, connected and intricate as the Elephant itself.

Throughout the day, the Elephant surprized us many times; layers were revealed as we separated out the visions. And we surprised ourselves by being able to jettison many architectural prejudices. We loved being inside the curious concrete Perronet House with its sky gardens, directly overlooking the northern roundabout and the city, with that same small elephant as part of its front garden …..”

Workshop by Diana Cochrane, Anna Ludwig & Rufufs Willis

Thanks to Linda & Ben on the Pullens and Ben and Richard @ Perronet House and AF education manager Aislinn White

Anna and Rufus and the students invited me back in February to see what they did with the BA(Hons) Architecture Students @ the Cass: collages about  ideas for the Aylesbury estate

And then they made a newspaper. Some excerpts here


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Phuoc presented the workshop outcomes to Community Council

Phuoc presented the workshop outcomes to Community Council

Phuoc presented the workshop outcomes to Community Council

Phuoc presented the workshop outcomes to Community Council













We started at the Elephant

We finished at the Elephant

1969 Chateau Rothschild

I love well used kitchens where cooking actually gets done with unusual old kitchen gadgets  (for whipping cream) smells, foraged food, chaos & the distinctive sounds of laughter. For Mark’s birthday he cooked up bags of new covent garden chanterelles with cream, 4 day marinated pork in juniper berries and beef dredged in fennel & cinnamon, roasted on the barbeque beside the grilled  marinaded octopus; all served with black beans & olive oil garlic mash. A sophisticated, tasty & comforting feast.

For pudding we had a 1969 chateau rothschild (with a beautiful label designed by miro), cheese & peaches & more chaoic chat about the ethics of song lyrics …. the distinctive family laugh & comparing sibblings hands. Lovely evening around the kitchen table – thanks & happy birthday mark !

Best bun’s in London

Is ‘too much’ choice a good thing ?

Personally, I prefer my choices to be limited – but unlimited choice is certainly stimulating  – chilli fudge followed by black somerset blood sausage for breakfast. We sampled our way around Borough market which is up & running again whilst people were queuing round the block for coffee at Monmouth. Mushrooms were the top choice of the day; British proccini, a box of figs for only £3.50 and very buttery Colsten Bassett Stilton.

I prefer Konditor & Cook’s mini cakes, passion fruit flavored meringues & multiple flavored brownies (especially the ones with crannberries hiding inside), whilst others in the market (and in Princi, Wardour Street)  offer tremendous & huge tray bakes cut into slabs and served from rectangular aluminium platters, somewhat reminiscent of school diners.

Yautcha once again topped the charts with red & black ‘punk’ and yellow glittery macaroons and the most intensely coloured and flavoured red strawberry chocolate eclairs. Even the base was red. Nothing crude about that.

Punk and delicately paint splattered flavorings and color on top made chocolates and meringues look unusual and enticing here (and at Paul Young, just round the corner). Who played with their spray gun first I wonder?. And at Yautcha lots of experiments with matt red and green tea mould ‘fabric-like’ textures on the outside of cakes, almost defying the senses – but we still really wanted to eat those green mouldy mounds and red upholsted buns. Maybe next time.

Meanwhile William Curly  didn’t really offer enough choice at the end of the day. His buns are made in Twickenham apparently – that well known home of buns (not). Orange mango beautifully textured and flavoured squares exploded in our mouths even though they had also exploded in the box on the way home. It was so disappointing to see the car crash site of buns in the bottom of the box when you so want them to remain perfect to share with friends after the bus ride home. Maybe that’s why macaroons are such a big hit – their indestructibility on the bus!

I like to see and possibly smell what I’m buying when it comes to good chocolate & cakes ….there’s no excuse for bad lighting in chocolate shops and too colorful branded packaging (Prestat) so you can’t see what you’re buying at all. Not a hint of chocolate smell to identify their chocolatey cave in Liberty – or were we really in the perfume department? It was hard to tell in amongst the carefully arranged array of glossy boxes.

Similarly I don’t want all your creativity to go into the shapes and atmosphere. At Choccywocckydoodah we loved the truely baroque multi-tiered cakes, irreverent skulls, mad glitter decorations and the cute little solid chocolate love birds. But 22% chocolate really ….? Not sure I wanted to taste their wares in the cafe after that – only  22% froth on my cappucino …

Cloud grey was the surprisingly chic colour of the day – for macaroons at Laudree – the same colour as the ‘back to school’ boots and tunic we liked in Cos. But unlike Cos, that golden cave for cakes and macaroons needs a really good dust please.