The area of the dyke to be replaced, running from Rogers Avenue north to Carrothers Avenue. (April 2014 aerial photo from City of London)
While many (yours truly included) enjoy the pathway portion of the 2007 reconstruction as a means of recreation and transportation, there is a significant lack of shade (i.e. no trees) and no means of interacting with the river, something that Londoners over and over again have said is a top priority for rejuvenating Askunesippi (AKA "the Thames"). It very much conveys an oudated mindset of constructing the built environment as a "concrete jungle" by dividing humans from the natural environment. Even the guardrail – aside from being ugly as sin – with its prison-like bars evokes the sensation of separation, as if the river was an exhibit at the zoo.
A view of the West London dyke, with the 2007 replacement visible in upper-right. (February 9, 2013)
Don't get me wrong: the design isn't a complete failure. I do like the aspects of having a sitting area at the top of the dyke situated at the end of each of the beautiful dead-end streets in Blackfriars akin to the one at the terminus of Rogers Avenue. The displays also included a variety of options for guardrail that don't include prison bars.
A view of the West London dyke, with the 2007 replacement visible in upper-right and existing guardrail along the right of the photo. (July 8, 2012)
Finally, the existing guardrail allows folks to view the river with ease, and also to get up and down the dyke without hiking for kilometres to the nearest access point. I fully encourage reusing the current style of guardrail, and even better would be to use the current materials: they have a charm unlike any other spot along the pathway and mesh wonderfully with the culturally significant Blackfriars Bridge.
Comments are being accepted until Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016. This construction project won't only affect the denizens of the Blackfriars neighbourhood, but the population at large: we have a chance to make something beautiful out of something so mundane. Be sure to get comments in by sending to:
Cameron Gorrie, P.Eng, Stantec Consulting Ltd.
600-171 Queens Avenue, London, N6A 5J7