Well, here it is: the world’s worst billboard. Not that billboards are ever, like, especially great. And that’s why for the most part, cities don’t put up new ones. Or commission one by an architect known for her tone-deaf hubris. It’s like Zaha Hadid swept up some of the trash from her vagina stadium in Qatar and plopped it onto a curb in London.
This butt-ugly heap of twisting sheet metal is thanks to JC Decaux, the same company which you can thank for pretty much all the advertising currently cluttering our city streets. The digital screen (which is kind of awkwardly and distractingly close to drivers, right?) will blast messages at oncoming traffic while performing no other purpose on the streetscape. No bus stop, no bench. Just a blobular reminder of OMEGA WATCHES, for all.
What could possibly make this whole thing worse? The statement from the architects:
The contrast between the organic structure and its surroundings enhances the character of the area, which adjoins one of the busiest trafficked routes into London.
Its distinctive features can act as an iconic focal point to an area that is currently uninspiring and suffering from an overall sense of neglect and dearth of identity.
So let’s put up some ADVERTISING!
The aim in this scheme is to develop an inspiring and striking built form that crosses the line between media platform and public art.
Oh, ok, so it’s not a billboard, it’s a platform for art, you guys.
The proposal represents a significant investment in the site and the development of an architectural form that will create a new genre in the roadside advertising canon.
That’s my new band name. Roadside Advertising Canon.
If you look at the West Cromwell Road site — which is a heavily trafficked route to Heathrow, no $USurpri$e — there is an existing billboard at this location which will be torn down to make way for Hadid’s space junk. The argument from the architects is that a steel spiral which juts into the sidewalk and creates a keyhole-like opening for people to step gingerly through will actually be better for pedestrians. Namely because it will remove the existing street lighting and replace it with a strip of illuminated pavement. Because less lighting always makes people walking at night feel better.
This monstrosity is not approved yet; the planning committee still has to make a ruling on the billboard next month. Please, I beg of you, residents of Kensington and Chelsea, make it stop. For the love of the roadside advertising canon, please make it stop. [Dezeen via Curbed]
Picture: Zaha Hadid Architects via Dezeen