Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Architecture - For the Kids

This week I've mainly been sitting down with my foot up - foot, not feet I'm afraid, and it's not been very relaxing. I developed an infection from a random horsefly bite which left me barely able to walk. I mean, honestly, how much pain can one little bite cause? Let me tell you... A LOT! Anyway, I seem to be on the mend now thanks to some strong antibiotics, and I'm going to be wearing a head-to-toe boiler suit from now on at all times, just in case!

I was due to be giving a talk to Wiss's pre-school nursery class about Architects (and Modelmakers!) but that has had to be postponed too. Instead, and to keep me prepared, I thought I'd share some of our personal architectural gems in London.

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The view from the top of Gipsy Hill, SE19 is one Wiss has grown up with, and as views of the City go it is pretty spectacular. We watched the Shard being built from this vantage point and we see it daily in all sorts of weather - the way the sun reflects off it is amazing. Wiss developed a love for the Shard and points it out whenever he spots it somewhere on the skyline!

The Shard

Getting the train into London Bridge station offers a completely different view of the Shard, and standing at the foot of it you can feel completely dwarfed. The trick perspective from this angle makes it seem like the Shard is even taller than it really is. 


We have not taken Wiss to the top viewing level yet as the prices have always been prohibitively expensive, but this half term children go free! Between 26 May and 1 June up to 2 children can get in free with at least one full-paying adult. Even though adult tickets are still £25 each, this could mean a saving of up to £37.90 on the kids!!! See their website for more details and to book in advance.

City Hall


Once you've got the train to London Bridge, it would be silly not to take a stroll along the river. We always cut through Hayes Galleria (great pirate ship sculpture in the middle) then have a look at HMS Belfast moored just before City Hall. The piazza round here is always buzzing with people and interesting things to see. There's even a free table tennis table with bats and balls provided!

City Hall (designed by Norman Foster) is home to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, and as such may seem to be off-limits, especially with a child...but no! Parts of it are open to the public, and once you've negotiated the airport-style security (always exciting for a kid) you will be able to explore the enormous aerial photo of the whole of London (just seen at the bottom of the ramp in this photo) I wish I taken some pictures of Wiss running around on this but maybe I will, and add them in post-posting?
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As well as trying to find your house on the huge map, there is a great cafe with an outside terrace into the Scoop (for little ones to run around in, if there's no free entertainment on) and of course, there is a toilet with baby changing facilities. Always handy to know where these are in busy tourist areas!

Toddle in the City

I've posted before about these brilliant Treasure Hunts for kids armed with digital cameras, and I'm pleased to say that Yat is back again with more Toddles this summer! The first ones kick off on the 30 & 31st May in Crystal Palace as preparation for the Overground Festival running from 26th -29th June. I love the idea of encouraging a love and respect for the city from an early age, and you really do get to see things from a completely different perspective when a child is behind the lens.

 
As well as being a great day out there is hope that the photos from these Toddles may help with the future redevelopment plans of Crystal Palace and the Park! The pictures taken by these children could help to shape the city of tomorrow by informing the city-planners - how cool is that?

We're booked in already and can't wait to see what treasures the kids discover in Crystal Palace. If you want to book too then go to the Toddle in the City website.

Iggy Peck

Finally, you can keep the architecture theme going even at bedtime! 'Iggy Peck, Architect' is a great story about a little boy who just loves buildings (and bridges) The rhyming story is funny, and we love the illustrations by David Roberts. (I particularly love the use of graph paper backgrounds!) I found this a really easy way to start introducing the concept of architecture to Wiss, and it has led on to lots of discussions about designing buildings - and how suspension bridges work!

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