Work of 100 top architects was auctioned at the 10x10 Drawing the City event

Architects and artists at 10x10 Drawing the City

Architects and artists at 10x10 Drawing the City

City bankers were divested of their bonuses in a novel, exciting and philanthropic way at the start of the month. On the evening of 1 December, original works of the City’s Square Mile by 100 prominent architects, designers and artists were auctioned at the German Gymnasium in King’s Cross in aid of development and disaster relief charity Article 25.

The event 10x10 Drawing the City raised over £60,000, which will provide essential funds for post-disaster reconstruction work around the world including water and sanitation improvements in Haiti, schools in Burkina Faso, and a vocational training centre for former child soldiers in Uganda.

Contributors were sent out onto the streets of London to re-interpret the City, with the Square Mile divided into a grid of 100 squares with each assigned to an individual to draw whatever caught their eye.

Top of the bill was a glass model of the Gherkin shaped by a cutting-edge laser technique that fetched £4,500. The building and the model had both been created by Lord Norman Foster, a trustee of the event’s organiser.

The City’s two millennia of heritage are dutifully recorded in many drawings, often with less than rose-tinted subtexts. In the foreground of Peter Ayres’ fine pen and watercolour depiction of the Bank of England, for instance, stand an accretion of “phone boxes, traffic signs, and the recently added wayfinding points for bicycles.”

And look closely at Gus Alexander’s upstanding rendition of Wren’s St Lawrence Jury. Is that not a lone bowler-hatted banker to be seen standing above a pond and holding a massive iron weight?

Others such as John Lyall are fascinated by modern curtain walls and the curious reflections they create. For Barbara Weiss, though, fascination gives way to disgust. “The scale of new development is incongruous, materials unsympathetic to context, with overall design and detailing clumsy,” she snorts.

One of two architect-artists resort to peering vertically up or down. Former RIBA president Sunand Prasad spies a tiny window of sky high overhead framed by the cornices and trees that crowd in on it. Current RIBA president Angela Brady, in contrast, stares down from the 42nd floor of the NatWest Tower and recreates the street plan below in fused glass.

Well, what about the latest denizens of the Square Mile currently occupying St Paul’s precinct? Their cause is taken up by Charlie Whittaker, who has transposed their instant tent city to Broadgate’s Octagon. “Would [their] haphazard aesthetic be tolerated at all here?” he muses.

The auction’s success has encouraged the creator of the event Tim Makower to expand to other cities around the world including Doha, New York, Rotterdam and Boston.

Meanwhile the people of Burkina Faso, Uganda and Haiti can get on with turning London financiers’ excess cash to good use by building much needed new facilities.

To purchase the 10 x10 auction catalogue click here