18 Celebrity-led bike rides feature fascinating London architecture & social history

A series of bike rides led by well-known names will showcase London's architecture this summer, taking place 19 June – 4 July 2010 as part of London Festival of Architecture 2010.

We wrote last week about the tie-up between the Smithfield Nocture series of bike races on Saturday 19th June and the London Festival of Architecture which starts the same day.

After all, it's the most logical professional connection you can imagine as there cannot be a firm of architects in the country that doesn't have a pristine line of bikes lined up in their lobby, all ranked in seniority by the percentage of titanium in the construction.

Now we can list the events themselves which are being organised by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios with Face Partnership.

The rides are sponsored by Sky and will be enjoyable evening or daytime trips that, according to the organisers, "offer a fantastic insight into new parts of the city and a way of learning about its history, culture and hidden secrets."

Director of the London Festival of Architecture, Peter Murray said “We are very pleased to be working with Sky. The Festival’s theme is ‘The Welcoming City’ and we believe that cycling cities are a nicer place to live and work. Sky’s support of the festival will enable us to offer a range of exciting and innovative cycle tours around London’s most inspirational sites.”

Sky’s Director of Cycling, Corin Dimopoulos added, “Sky Ride offers a number of different ways for people of all ages to get on their bikes. Cyclists on these rides will be able to seek out London’s hidden treasures from a different view point. We are pleased to support this festival and, combined with our other Sky Ride events taking place this summer, we hope to get more people on their bikes.”

All the tours will be led by passionate experts from Observer architecture critic Stephen Bayley to commentator and designer Wayne Hemingway, from Stirling Prize Winners Keith Bradley and Mike Keys to Olympic Landscape Designers and the developers of Kings Cross & St. Pancras.

The eighteen rides will stop off at buildings and urban spaces and explore the themes behind some of London’s most interesting new buildings as well as some of her oldest architectural icons.

There will be podcasts of a number of the rides for you to download, more information to follow.

The rides are open to everyone but you do need to book. Tickets £5. Needless to say, they're going to sell fast. You know what to do.


 London Festival of Architecture 2010 Bike Tours


1. The Productive City

19 June, 1.00pm - 4.30pm

Tour Leader: Jeremy Till, University of Westminster, Dean of School of Architecture and Built Environment

Start Point:  St John Street -Waitrose/Tesco EC1
End Point:   Stock Orchard Street, N7

A tour of spaces in the city that produce, have once produced, or could produce food. Starting in a supermarket in St. John Street then a tour including public fruit trees, Is the office meeting on Monday?
communal gardens, composting machines, guerrilla gardening, city farms, and ending in Jeremy’s own garden for a home-grown salad. The tour will include short talks from specialists including Carolyn Steel, author of Hungry City. The ride aims is to explore the potential for seeing the city in a new way.


2. Signs and Symbols of Life in Clerkenwell / The City

19 June, 3.00pm – 5.00pm

Tour Leader: David Rosenberg, Designer

Start Point:   Oxo Tower
End Point:    Smithfield Nocturne, Smithfield Market

Route around the City and Clerkenwell, taking time to appreciate the architectural signage and historic layers of the city’s signs and symbols. Start at Oxo Tower and cross the river or Trafalgar Square and head for the Strand then Fleet Street, then Smithfield and Clerkenwell.


3. Sonic London

20 June, 11am – 2.00pm

Tour Leader: Jack Thurston, Presenter of the Bike Show on London’s award-winning Resonance FM

Start Point:    Studios of Resonance FM, rear of 144 Borough High Street. SE1
End Point:     A Royal Park, Central London

This ride, led by Jack Thurston, presenter of The Bike Show on London's award-winning experimental art radio station Resonance FM, will turn an ear to the sounds of the city. Distinctive, delightful, distracting, dangerous? From the peals of church bells to birdsong and waves on the Thames shore, from building sites to planes, trains and automobiles, cycling around London is as much of a sonic experience as any other. Sounds, whether natural or man-made, can be beautiful, evocative and moving, yet there is growing awareness of the health problems caused by noise pollution in the modern age. Come clean your ears and tune in to the London soundscape.


4. The Great School Run

23 June, 3.30pm – 7.00pm

Tour Leader: Keith Bradley, Ian Taylor and Richard Battye of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Start Point:  tbc
End Point:   tbc

This ride offers three tours around the great new schools that have been built in London in the last few years. Each tour will start at different points north, west and south of the city and will converge on a central point. A great opportunity to see new schools architecture, meet those who make the policy decisions about our schools as well as hear short talks from those who design the buildings.


5.  A Mystery Cycle Tour

23rd June, 19.00 – 20.30pm

Tour Leader: Roger Madelin, Argent

Start Point:   German Gymnasium Kings Cross
End Point:    Southwark tbc (waiting for more detail from Roger)

A ride to see some new spaces being formed on the railway lands at King's Cross, then into Islington to look at small and large parks and gardens in wealthy and not so wealthy areas. Journeying into southern Islington for more formal set pieces and play spaces then into the City and then over the river to Southwark.


6. The Evolution of London Gardens

24th June, 10.00 – 4.00pm

Tour Leaders: Keith French of Grant Associates and Mike Keys of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Start Point:   tba
End Point:    tba

Title: Plants and Gardens That Have Shaped the City

A tour around a selection of gardens and squares of London both historic and contemporary. We will explore the stories of their evolution in terms of layout, planting selection and how cultural, social and environmental influences have shaped their design. As we go forward through the 21st century we ask what lessons we can learn to ensure that squares and gardens meet the future needs of the city and the challenges of climate change.


7. 17th century Cycling & Sketching Spectacular

26th June, 10.00am – 4.00pm

Tour Leader: Benny O’Looney

Start Point:   NLA, Store Street, WC1E 7BT
End Point:    Tower Bridge (with potential to continue onto St Pauls, Deptford if time allows – Benedict and group will decide if this is possible on the day)

A full day’s sketching tour of some of London’s finest 17th Century baroque architecture & sculpture. Sketching locations include Trafalgar Square, St John's at Smith Square and St Paul's Cathedral, with stops at other 17th Century points of interest along the way.


8. Food, drink, architecture, art – The Best of France in London

26th June, 2.00 – 4.30pm

Tour Leader: Stephen Bayley

Start Point:   Michelin Building, Fulham Road
End Point:    One New Change

This ride celebrates the best of all things French in London. Starting at the Michelin Building, Fulham Road with a coffee in the first ever building-as-an-advertisement. Onto Westminster Abbey, where we see the influence of Reims, Amiens and Chartres. Head north to the Wallace Collection to see an unsurpassed collection French furniture and art, most notably Fragonard's L'Escarpolette and Poussin's Dance to the Music of Time. Next stop is the Air France building on Piccadilly - this is Erno Goldfinger's hommage a Corb and used to be the old French Tourist Office. Continue to Notre-Dame de France, Leicester Place to take a look at Jean Cocteau's murals of the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. Onto the French Church in Soho Square, the last Huguenot church in London. Finish at Jean Nouvel, One New Change, Cheapside for Champagne.


9. Thames Ride to RSPB Rainham Marshes

26th June, start time to be confirmed.

Tour Leaders: Josh McCosh of Van Heyningen and Haward Architects + Barry Mason, Southwark Cyclists

Start Point:  London Bridge
End point:    Rainham Marshes

An easy paced ride from Central London to Rainham Marshes along the banks of the Thames. Starting at London Bridge, with a lunch stop at Barking Riverside Limited (BRL) offices and tea at RSPB Rainham. We return from there by the direct route to Central London. There are numerous railway stations en-route where people can peel off if they need/want to. Please bring a packed lunch


10. Architectural gateways to London

27th June, 10am – 4.30pm

Tour Leader: Chris James, Lambeth Cyclist

Start Point:   10.30 am Battersea Park Station. Second pick up at Victoria at 11am.
End Point:     Waterloo Station

This ride highlights the radical new architectural creations that the coming of the railways created. The competition between the private rail companies to create impressive yet practical termini has left us with a great overlooked historical legacy. We will tour clockwise from Victoria via Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, St Pancras and more. Lunch at a railway themed pub!


11. Velo 2 Velo

27th June, 11.00am – 2pm

Tour Leaders: Alex Smith of Building Magazine + Richard Fenne,  Austin Smith Lord

Start Point:   National Film Theatre, Southbank
End Point:    High Street 2010, Stratford

The Velo2Velo rides links London's two Olympic cycling venues. Starting from the National Film Theatre on the South Bank we'll be heading South to the Herne Hill Velodrome which hosted the track cycling events at the 1948 London Olympics. This is your chance to see the historic 1948 stands before long-awaited plans to redevelop the venue are finally put into action. We'll then be riding through quiet roads and bike trails in South East London to the City of London and the start of the Olympic High Street at Whitechapel. Here you'll get the chance to join in LFA activities to celebrate this unique part of London, which will be transformed for the Olympics. The final leg takes us to the 2012 Olympic site in Stratford, where you'll have a close-up view of the Zaha Hadid's aquatic centre and the Olympic stadium, and of course the 2012 Velodrome designed by Hopkins.


12. London's Stations on the Move

27th June, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Tour Leader: Martin Harrison-Putnam from London Transport Museum

Start Point:   Charing Cross tube station
End Point:    Victoria train station

Get up close and personal with London’s amazing station architecture during London Transport Museum’s cycle tour. Showcasing some of London's fabulous station architecture and design, with facts and insights into aspects that include mural decorations, American influence, Portland stone constructions, the famous collapsing rood of Charing Cross station and Victoria’s split personality.

Learn about designers such as Terry Farrell and his post-modernist style, modernist sculptors including Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Henry Moore, and Frank Pick and Charles Holden's distinctive architectural legacy - 55 Broadway.

As part of this cycle tour each guest will receive a 2 for 1 discount entrance into the Museum from 6 July until 22 August 2010 for the Museum’s Summer of Cycling celebration, which includes the Cycling in London exhibition displaying illustrations that interpret experiences of cycling in the Capital.

The tour will take you on a journey from Charing Cross to Victoria via Embankment, Westminster and St James Park.


13. Remodelling of old housing estates

28th June, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Tour Leader: Wayne Hemingway, Designer & Entrepreneur

Start Point:   tba
End Point:    tba

Ideas about city housing schemes have changed almost beyond recognition over the last 100 years. This tour of some of London’s iconic housing estates shows how they have been remodelled and updated for a new century and a new way of living. Wayne Hemingway will lead the ride and get those involved in the schemes to talk about themes of building reuse and recycling in tough economic times.


14. The Linear City

29th June, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Tour Leader: Cany Ash, Ash Sakula

Start Point:   Green Bridge, Mile End Park
End Point:    Towpath Café, west of Kingsland Rd.

A tour of developments hugging viaducts, canals & roads. The tour will start under the Green Bridge in Mile End Park, just off the Mile End Road. First stop will be the 'Lock-Keepers Cottage' by Surface Architects and 'The Westfield Student village' by FCBS on the Queen Mary's University campus. From there, we travel along the canal, passing Victoria Park and going east to Fish Island, where we will get a view of the unique characters of Fish Island by stopping at one of the developed warehouses on Stour Road. There will follow a quick stop at 'The Counter Cafe' before heading back through Victoria Park towards the Hothouse by Ash Sakula Architects on the edge of London Fields. The ride will rejoin the canal, exiting at Kingsland Road to view SoDa Studios by Thinkingspace Ltd. The tour will end with snacks and drinks at the Towpath Cafe on Regent’s Canal, just off Kingsland Road.


15. Wren + Hawksmoor city churches

2nd July, 6.00pm - 8.30pm

Tour Leader: Fergus Connolly, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Start Point:   Christchurch Spitalfields
End Point:    St James Piccadilly

Former SPAB scholar Fergus Connolly takes in several City Churches built in the wake of the Great Fire of London, in particular those of Wren and Hawksmoor. It will consider the unique historic context of these architectural gems in terms of religion, arts, and the city, and seeks to illustrate their continual relevance and value in those areas.


16. Celebrating biodiversity: Naturalistic, Herbaceous plantings within the city.

3rd July, 11am – 2pm

Tour Leader: Sarah Price Landscape Designer

Start Point:    2012 VIEW TUBE, Pudding Mill Lane, Stratford
End Point:     The Phoenix Garden, Covent Garden

The tour celebrates how gardens and parks have kept biodiversity alive in cities, providing rich experiences for wild life and people. Not only can naturalistic city planting be environmentally sound, but if thoughtfully designed, it can be dramatically beautiful.

We will explore potential ways of bringing nature right into the heart of towns and cities. This may be achieved at all levels, from the smallest of gardens, roadside verges to large parks. Unlike many wildlife gardens these sites are neither scruffy nor unkempt but are designed to be breathtakingly beautiful in their planting.

The tour questions the current fashion for native-only plantings within urban areas, suggesting instead that designed plantings of natives and exotics can be as good for bio-diversity whilst additionally offering far more to the human users of landscape.

17. Played in West London – historic sportscapes in West London

4th July, 10.00am – 3pm

Tour Leader: Simon Inglis, author and architectural historian

Start Point:   Stadium Street/Cremorne Road SW10
End Point:    Site of 1908 Olympic Stadium, White City, W12

A bike tour that traces West London’s intricate network of sporting and recreational buildings and locations, taking in 19th century running tracks, two contrasting Premiership football stadiums, two exclusive private sports clubs, sundry Edwardian swimming baths and billiard halls, the site of the world’s first artificial ice rink and the finishing line of the 1908 Olympic Games marathon. Several of these sites are remarkable survivors of long standing battles with developers. Expect a wide range of architectural styles and quirky corners.


18. Subterranean London

Date and time to be confirmed

Tour Leader:  Barry Mason of Southwark Cyclists

Start point:   Mecklenburgh Square, WC1 (behind Grays Inn Road)
End point:    Southwark, tbc

Some of London’s lost, buried and not-so buried history, from hidden rivers to outlaw burial grounds. A ride to ponder what lies beneath, following the line of the buried Fleet River below Farringdon Road and crossing the Thames to Southwark to consider lost rivers, roads, crypts and vaults. Secrets, mysteries and subterranean diversions - and some architecture along the way.


The rides are open to everyone but you do need to book. Tickets £5. Needless to say, they're going to sell fast. You know what to do.