I joined a group on a walk through the streets of Camden Town, that most special of places, where the architecture fuses the past with the future. It showed how the local architecture is rooted in time, but, at the same time it’s able to go hand in hand with modern design.
The walk begins at the Camden Collective, where our guide, the experimental photographer Catalina Niculescu, introduces us to the history of the last century of Camden’s architecture, and explains the various movements associated to it.
From there, we move towards the KSR Architects offices, where the festival’s logo was created. In the office we are able to admire the creative skills of the architects, shown to us through a series of fascinating projects in the form of plastic models. But the real surprise comes when we watch one of the models being built live by a futuristic 3D printer.
The second stop of our walk takes us to the famous Rotunda – a beautiful circular building that was once a piano factory. It is now home to the London office of Max Fordham, an engineering studio, where engineers are studying new solutions for sustainable engineering. The interior is a spectacular circular open space, where every window is like a painting. We are shown the building’s story, through a series of old photos and even get to see an old piano preserved from the days of the factory.
Once out, we head to the ex-home of TV-AM, which now houses MTV. The modern façade of the building is made up of vertical brightly coloured poles, and in the inner courtyard, a lush garden covers the walls. We should imagine the courtyard as the walls, and the walls as the garden, in this bizarre role reversal.
We leave this charming building, and head to the last stop on our tour – the Roundhouse, a true icon for many generations. Built in 1846 as a railway engine shed, it was then used in the next century as an alcohol warehouse. However, fame came in 1964, when the building started to host rock concerts, from Jimi Hendrix to Pink Floyd. This spectacular building features incredible architectural ideas in the majestic Main Room, with its steel pylons and dome. Today, there are soundproofed rooms everywhere, where young musicians can try their hand at music for free and vent their creativity. The incredible mixture of the old building and the modern technology make the Roundhouse a brilliant example of architecture.
And it is precisely here that we conclude our beautiful walk, as the evening falls and the lights come on in Camden. The architecture and design of Camden show the true soul of the place; a balance between the past and the future.