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Good at Magic

Pedestrian subways in London have a bad reputation. Their detractors perceive them as dangerous unpleasant places, an underworld for the underworld, demeaning antiquated infrastructure, the detritus from an age when people were subservient to the motorcar. Across London this capital space is being filled in and erased from the landscape. Transport for London and Southwark Council have made it their policy to block them up soon.

We disagree with this policy and challenge the negative perceptions. The Elephant and Castle subways are proven to be safer for people than surface level, whether measured by the police for incidents of crime or by TfL for traffic accidents. Despite their dilapidated appearance and neglect by their owners several of the subways are also very busy and popular. The merits of these subways are ignored by policy makers who are motivated by perceptions more than facts. This subway will sealed up, a tomb to be discovered by future more enlighted generations who value pedestrian urban space.

The Pungent Subway - an installation that is part of the London Festival of Architecture 2014 - confronts negative perceptions with an incongruous assault on our sense of smell. The subway is strewn with the comforting and incongruous fragrance of herbs in a manner that was traditional in times before disinfectant or effecive cleaning staff. Lavender, sage, bay and lemon balm harvested from local guerrilla gardens and community gardens is used. We invite users to let their noses guide them and imagine the subways more permanently improved.

The Pungent Subway was installed for three evenings, 12, 13 and 14 June 2014.

The Pungent Subway Team: Richard Reynolds, Lyla Reynolds, Andy Beauchamp and Paul McGann

Find about more about the proposed changes at the Elephant and Castle at my campaign websites and



The Pungent Subway

Pungentn Subway June 12