The 'Scribble' – London, England - Atlas Obscura
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London, England

The 'Scribble'

A giant scrawl on the skyline of south London. 

Goldsmiths, University of London in southeast London was founded in 1891 by the City of London’s Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who intended for the school to teach technical skills to men and women of the industrial and artisan classes. Nowadays, as part of the University of London in the New Cross neighborhood of South London, it is better known for its contributions to the arts, design, and social sciences including the United Kingdom’s pioneering art psychotherapy department, boasting many illustrious alumni.

The year 2005 saw the opening of the Ben Pimlott Building, filled with new teaching space and studios for the university’s Department of Art. Designed by British architect Will Alsop, most of the building favors function over form—it is a metal and glass structure, with a fully glazed northern elevation to allow in plenty of light for students at work.

The exception to this practical approach is a nearly 30-foot-tall steel “scribble” perched on the roof terrace. Composed of 229 separate pieces of metal, the sculpture weighs in at nearly 30 tons. If it was stretched out, it would come to 1,750 feet in length, considerably taller than London’s tallest building, the Shard. At night, the building is illuminated with industrial lights, the presence of the scribble sculpture casting a host of unique shadows.

The sculpture has become a symbol of the modern Goldsmiths, with the Ben Pimlott Building being the first stage in a scheme to help with the revival of New Cross, which had struggled since London’s decline as a major port and manufacturing center. The Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art recently opened in the shadow of the Ben Pimlott Building. The scribble certainly adds a touch of humour to the skyline, hopefully lifting the spirits of those who pass by, and perhaps echoing the designs of the artists in training working within.

Know Before You Go

The sculpture is part of the Ben Pimlott Building at Goldsmiths, University of London and can be easily seen from around the area. It overlooks the new Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art

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