These are the new hoardings around the podium of the Shell Centre on the South Bank.
The Shell Centre was built as Shell’s corporate headquarters in the 1950s on public land leased from the London County Council. It contained a two large publicly accessible open spaces, a public square with a grade I listed sculpture and a podium over the carpark that was originally planned as an ‘urban garden’. The land was sold to Shell in the late 1950s but the public continued to have access to the open spaces on the site and the sale of the land required that pedestrian rights of way were maintained across the site.
The public square was closed on the basis of security concerns by Shell over a decade ago and for years was left to rot. The podium was used by millions a year to access the South Bank until these hoardings were raised just a few weeks ago.
Both the podium and the square are now being demolished to make way for a new development of around 800 luxury homes currently being marketed at around £2,000 pounds per square foot.
Overall the site will lose around 4000 square meters of open space to be replaced with highly exclusive buildings yet this is supposed to be “our new destination”. A claim which is doubly absurd when you think that the development is on the South Bank, London’s cultural heartland which receives 18m visitors a year.
This picture I thought captured this reality. The bright and loud advertising hoardings are ignored by the people walking past them. Although crowded on a small pavement as they have lost the vast expanse of the Shell podium they are happily moving on to the South Bank, a real London destination.