Drawing in the City

A wrong turn has raised £82,000 for charity at the 10x10 ‘Drawing in the City’ event, an ‘art by architects’ auction that took place last week at London’s German Gymnasium for UK Development and disaster relief charity Article 25. The charity aims to protect the right, enshrined in the UN’s 25th Article, of everyone on the planet to adequate shelter through generating ‘building solutions to global problems’.

10x10 event started when Allies and Morrison architect Tim Makower took a wrong turn down a City of London sidestreet. ‘He’d never seen the street, and its strangeness compelled him to start sketching it,’ says event organiser Laura Holden. ‘People stopped to ask him what he was doing, and he realised that this chance occurrence had become a strange moment of human engagement and experience in the city.’ 

Makower and architect Stephen Taylor then came up with the idea of dividing a map of the City of London into a 10 x 10 grid, and to ask different notable architects and designers to give their interpretation of the spirit of their particular grid. When Article 25 got involved, it became an opportunity to auction the works and make sure that the money raised went to a cause relevant to the profession.

And the big names pulled in the big money. Norman Foster’s model of the Gherkin went for £4,500, Architect and AA tutor Takero Shimazaki’s city triptych went for £1600, and even Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud got his paintbrush out to give his interpretation of the Lloyd’s building at sunset, which fetched £1200, no less.

For me, of the 25 works exhibited I felt that most seemed to miss the point- being more about some kind of physical representation rather than embodiment of the spirit of the place. But Laurie Chetwood’s effort stood out for me, showing a modern city haunted with the presence of the past in some wracked Hogarth-esque montage of human frailty. It kind of hit the nail on the head with its sense of zeigeist. 

Critique aside, the audience made up of the profession and industry clients did well to raise £82,000- every penny of which will go to funding water and sanitation improvements in Haiti, schools in Burkina Faso, and a vocational training centre for former child soldiers in Uganda.