When genius is dogged determination

It was great to see architects David Marks and Julia Barfield occupying the ‘How we made’ slot in The Guardian yesterday, talking about the London Eye.

It was great to see architects David Marks and Julia Barfield occupying the ‘How we made‘ slot in The Guardian yesterday, talking about the London Eye. It is now well over 20 years since they entered a competition run by the Evening Standard to propose a landmark to celebrate the millennium. Did they succeed? Well, no. As David puts it: ‘But we didn’t win the competition. Nobody did – the judges didn’t think any of the ideas were good enough. We were narked. We had a great idea and no one was going to see it. So we said: “Let’s just do it.” ‘

The pair detail their battles to win round the planners, and the technical problems that they had to overcome. If there is a gap in the story, it is that I would have liked to have read more about how they brought the finances together (I did know once but it was a long time ago).

I think the real lesson of this is that the pair had two strokes of genius by choosing the form and the location, but what made it happen was their dogged determination not to give up. They have promoted other projects since then and I think their approach is inspirational. ‘Entrepreneurial’ is an over-used word, often with tacky overtones of ways to get rich quick, but this spirit in architecture which says ‘if nobody else will make happen, I will,’ is still sadly rare but wholly to be applauded.

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