Covid surfaces. Public walls in lockdown London (2)

Soho / Chinatown

It was eerie yet energising to see my favourite part of town all boarded up. There is a hopeful paradox in this state of suspension, as the activity behind the boards has ceased, yet the street is hammered at and activated with intense works, the kind of which I have never seen in Soho. Construction noise will always exist in this city, even after the damn apocalypse.

Doors cease to allow access and windows disappear under opaque sheets of plywood, hardening the threshold between inside and out, and providing increased affordance for the display of messages. More boards = more active surfaces.

The opposite seems to be happening in residential areas, where the domestic has been spilling into the public, and transitional spaces are now becoming new loci for activity: the front steps, the balcony, the communal corridor, the windows and doors are open and porous.

Soho, on the other hand, as many nightlife areas in other cities I would imagine, has sealed off its entertainment spaces completely, which has activated its surfaces like never before. Bars and restaurants are closed but the energy is still there, and the overwhelming sense is of only a temporary suspension.

These surfaces are full of inspiration, energy and unrest.

Urban walls are magnetic callers and reliable archives.

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