Other States: Once Canada Square

An architectural animation questions rapid urban development

'My imagery was drawn from a walk I took between Canary Wharf and The Shard,' says Simon Ball of Once Canada Square  an architectural short produced in collaboration with fellow audio and visual designer Zai Tang, that was originally conceived for UCL, Urban Lab's 'Demolition Series'.

The duo, who met while studying Digital Arts at Camberwell College, create a psycho-geographical wandering that brings distant sounds, recorded by Tang on journeys stemming from the River Thames, into juxtaposition with London’s glass-landscapes.

With this ‘run-away train of development’, it is possible to imagine fluctuating landscapes as the predominant experience of contemporary urban development.

While London’s redeveloped architectural landscapes represent a future-focused city - a previous work by the pair,  titled Exploit (Bukit Brown Cemetery II) explores how Bukit Brown Cemetery hovers on the verge of a similar transformation.

Planned for redevelopment, the 100,000 burial sites will make way for a four-lane highway; public housing and high-speed urban infrastructure replacing wildlife-rich public parkland commemorating Singapore’s early pioneers.

As architectural environments hastily transform, public communication is rendered as inaudible as the deceased.

Cities, sites of perpetual motion, leave human experience in limbo between death and rebirth – destinies over which there is no apparent control.

Once Canada Square questions the sacrifices facing rapidly developing cities, an affective experience of global urban uniformity is presented, through which urgency for definitive collective action and an interrogation of necessity is encouraged.

Text by Tim Miller