Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by Ivor Hall [SCE 010]

This is a personal submission by Mr Ivor Hall RIBA, AA Dipl, FCSD. Retired Architect, Interior and Exhibition Designer.

My submission is to draw attention to the Committee of what I consider a failure of both our Private and more particularly our Public Bodies failure to attract the best design for our national monuments. I concentrate on the 21st Century.

I comment on 9 21C National Memorials, in date order that have been constructed in London, in the main in our Royal Parks. What I have seen in the design of most of these Memorials is that as a sole practitioner/designer I never had a chance to submit a competition design although I did submit a statement of design for the Queen Mothers Memorial. I also, unofficially, sent in, at the time of the competitions designs for both the Diana Fountain and the 7/7 Memorials.

1. 2002-Commonwealth Gates. Is a memorial in Green Park funded by the National lottery costing £2.8M.

Comment - Oh dear, NO GATES!

2. 2004-Diana Fountain Memorial in Hyde Park, Government funded by Gordon Brown with a budget of £2M + £IM for maintenance finally costing over £5M. A design selected by an appointed committee of the great and the good which ignored both the competition site and budget they had so carefully selected. The design eventually was enclosed by a 365M long steel fence and, when open, permanently manned by security staff for health and safety reasons!.

Comment-Costly, shambolic and a complete disaster. See attached my article published in 2008 in the magazine Altwatch. [1]

3. 2004-Animals at War in Hyde Park conceived by Jilly Cooper and funded by private donations costing £I.4M.

Comment - A well designed memorial carrying a clear message

4. 2005-National Police Memorial in St James's Park conceived by Michael Winner and funded by public subscription costing £I.75M.

Comment = Not very practical or value for money.

5. 2005-Women at War in Whitehall, Government funded costing £1.7M.

Comment-Solid and unimaginative

6. 2005-Battle of Britain on the Embankment Government funded costing £1.75M.

Comment-A good design but costly.

7 .2009- Queen Mother Memorial on The Mall in St James's Park Government funded costing £2.M. The original selected design had George VI and the Queen Mother on the SAME plinth-an idea I also had put forward. I am advised the step change to put the QM below GVI came from the palace, a change which leaves the most awkward relationship between the QM in an overbearing Garter hat being sited some 4M below a bare headed GVl.

Comment-A great shame the original concept was not followed as the relationship of the two together would have been so much more comfortable on a plinth on the level of The Mall.

8.2009-7/7 Memorial in Hyde Park government funded costing £IM. A memorial designed by committee which lacks two essentials

a. I am, time and time again, told by the DCMS and the RPA that this is a memorial only for the 52 who died on that day. It is not in memory of the nearly 700 who were wounded in the four incidents. Neither does it give thanks for the brilliant and heroic work of London Transport staff, of fire-fighters, of ambulance crews, of police, of Doctors and hospital staff and members of the public who all worked under hellish conditions to save the lives of many.

b. As you see the memorial from the nearby path there is no tablet to tell you of the horror of the day, of the 52 deaths and nearly 700 wounded and all the public service personnel who worked so hard to help and succour. It is easy to dismiss it as another bit of modern sculpture. I have kept on suggesting the need for such a tablet to the DCMS and the RPA but they have dismissed it out of hand.

Perhaps your committee can help them to change their minds.

Comment-An incomplete memorial which fails to tell the story of the horror of that day and is solely dedicated to the 52 who died.

9. 2012- Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park funded by public donations and costing some £7 Million against an original £2.5M with a further £600K from the Government to cover the cost of the opening ceremony and a further £1.5M for ongoing maintenance.

A moratorium on memorials on London's Royal Parks was over ridden by the then minister and a sub-committee of the City of Westminster Planning Department overrode their own officers who recommended the design be refused and in its place a more modest memorial more in keeping with this small park.

Comment-Many of us who agreed with the planning officer's recommendation was ignored by the BCA who ran this project and their designer Liam O'Connor. To accommodate this insensitively designed memorial and its unnecessary add ons of a colonnade and surrounding structure mature trees were felled. Its sheer overbearing scale has destroyed Green Park forever.

CONCLUSION-I believe one would get the best results if future memorials in public places were subject to open design competitions. The competition rules should not be run by inexperienced in-house departments but by outside agencies like the RIBA who know how to write and ensure that the rules are fair and are followed to the letter.

I have, in my career produced little real architecture as my interest has been on wider matters in the field of design. This was first evident when, as a student I worked in an Architects office on the Festival of Britain. I later concentrated my practice on major refurbishment work of offices, shops and restaurants and the design of exhibition stands in International Trade shows around the world. Other work included the Live Aid Concert at Wembley, 2000 Sun dial designs for the Dome and private gardens, Designs for the Diana Fountain and 7/7 memorials, company logos and this year a proposal for a Museum for Nature in China.

November 2012


[1] Not printed.

Prepared 17th November 2012