Darryl Chen, 27 04 09

Everyone knows Golden Lane from the Smithsons, right? We’re talking streets in the sky and those great collages of convivial couples on elevated walkways. Well, it joins the ranks of architecture’s Most Famous Second-Place-Getters eclipsing the actual built scheme. It’s a pity that hardly anyone knows much about the architects who came first – Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who are otherwise known for the ground- and rule-breaking Barbican development next door. Even fewer would care to realize that the Barbican’s high walkways represent a successful (!) and built (!) example of those streets in the sky. Maybe, those kinds of concepts are best remembered in the imaginary and speculative world of architectural competitions than actual physical realities. Plus, the Smithsons (three noteworthy leaking buildings and a crapload of dogma) are untouchable, aren’t they…?

As an aside, the Royal Academy wrapped up their superb “Architects who made London” series with a lecture on Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, with the gloriously anorak Elain Harwood (of 20thC Society fame and more) taking the rostrum and flooring the audience with facts, pics, trivia and undying enthusiasm. To her, our undying love.

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