Hospital archive sketchI’m sat in a farm house eating fresh scrambled eggs piled up in thick yellowy flakes on brown toast. I sip my tea and feel all urban rustic. Just another Hackney contradiction. I’ve come here to sketch the condemned Queen Elizabeth children’s Hospital that awaits its fate across the road. I know there are a lot of photographs of the building but I like sketching, it gives a more personal interpretation, I think.

I’m trying to record the loss but I’ve left it a bit late. The hordings are already up and the demolition will soon begin. There will be no reprieve. Hackney Council have no compunction when there’s an opportunity to build desirable, mind numbingly bland flats, your time has come. If you look at this existing building, its rich red delicately moulded motifs and complex form now cracked, broken, entangled with burdock, you see what has happened to the ideals of public ownership. It will be replaced by 188 private dwellings, the bare minimum quota will be affordable (if you’re on a combined income of over 70 grand kind of affordable)

One of the reasons the hospital was built here in the first place was to alleviate the consequences of child poverty in the area. Then and now the worst in the country.

There have been many objections to the demolition, including English Heritage, who pointed out that the internal spaces were significant to our understanding of the development of health care. As a kind of sentimental lip service to the projects detractors they will leave standing, preserved in aspic, the front facade that runs along Hackney road. In my mind there’s no point in preserving a facade like this, we don’t live in a costume drama, either you retain the building and change its use from within its varied form or you design a new scheme based on its new content. This type of conservation only works if its a museum, like Soanes Museum for example, not a living, working building

This was a missed opportunity. If the council had called upon the most creatively crammed borough in Britain for ideas on how to develop this site a more progressive scheme would have emerged. These standard blocks of brick and glass accommodation are generally only accessible to a narrow demographic and can only erode not cement a sense of community.

As I finish my wholesome breakfast I’m warming to the Hackney City Farm contradiction. It’s the kind of project that makes me feel good about Hackney, I can only imagine that it took an enormous effort to realise. It’s time to go out and do some sketching to the sound of the wrecking ball.

For more information and some great photos of the interior see links below.

I plan on drawing the whole, existing for now, side elevation when I get time.