When I last lived in London, it was often said that the city is a ring of villages, each with its own life and culture. Having lived in Berlin for a good while, I know this to be rubbish; London is a city that suffers greatly from the immense human tide that washes in and out of the centre every day. Berlin, by contrast, really is a doughnut-like ring, with a big empty centre and everything around the edge. It has no west end, no downtown. (There are attempts – Ku’Damm, Potsdamer Platz, Alexander Platz, but they’re never really enough people to make a real crowd. There is no Soho.) But noodling around Clapham with a new eye for the city made me think there’s a glimmer, an idea perhaps, that the city could be different.
Maybe it’s my age. Since crossing the 40 line I feel exhausted by central London. If I want to dance all night to the finest techno, I want it to be in my own neighbourhood, with a short cycle home in the morning sunshine. In London, the journey each way feels as epic as the tunes (and I’m in zone 2).
Anyway. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen Stockwell Bus Garage before, and realise now that this was an error. It’s even more impressive in the flesh than in photos. But I still took photos. Discussion about concealed rainwater pipes, and their potential failures, didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the building.
Clapham library. Hmmm, not sure yet. Wacky stage-set interior, best elevation is on the side street. Studio Egret West, who are normally more restrained than this, apparently.
The most interesting bits though, were the new street-scaping projects and micro parks. Kids, actually playing in the street. And an edible bus stop.
Venn Street. I know, gentrified hotspot, but a convincing attempt at that European city cafes thing. Maybe it’s the olive trees?