Respect for the spaces in between buildings as worthy of attention and design in their own right is evident throughout the Festival, whether in the development of the neighbourhood at Lansbury, the design and architecture of the South Bank Exhibition and the Festival Pleasure Gardens at Battersea or even in the designation of the interior spaces of the Royal Festival Hall.
The landscape of the South Bank Exhibition was itself considered to be functional and design-worthy, with architects appointed to develop individual spaces. The exhibition was intended to be narrative, with much emphasis placed upon visitors following the recommended route, and the landscape played a role in directing people through the use of carefully placed features, split levels and changes in surfaces.
open spaces both here and at the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea
were also meant to have their own distinct public functions, characteristics
and merits. They were informal places where works of art could be publicly
displayed in the open air, where water features could delight and relax
visitors, with the greatest water feature being the Thames itself, and
where people could sit on specially provided outdoor furniture or, in
some spaces, dance long into the night. Attention to detail meant that
even the litter bins were specially designed. These public urban landscapes
were influenced by the ideas of modernism and particularly by Scandinavian
adaptations of modern ideas. The creation of good quality urban space
continued to be a concern of town planners long after the Festival had
do you often long for a little peace and fresh air away from smoke, soot, and noise?
('Guide to the Exhibition of Architecture, Town-Planning and Building Research')
Pedestrianisation was a feature of the Festival of Britain, being common to the Lansbury Estate, the South Bank Exhibition and the Festival Pleasure Gardens. People could safely wander without fear of the motor car. At the South Bank Exhibition and the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea, the exclusion of traffic meant that much more extensive and creative uses could be made of the open spaces. And it was probably the first time that many visitors had experienced a pedestrianised area. While most of the South Bank Exhibition was destroyed very soon after it closed, the river side walk was one of the lasting legacies of the Festival and is still a vibrant area of London today. Meanwhile, the Lansbury Estate boasted the first pedestrianised shopping centre in London, a feature which was to become common in the post-war city, the New Towns and indeed other urban areas in Britain.
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