Friday, October 31, 2014

The Siege of Silicon Roundabout

  Demolition site, Hoxton     

The Old Street roundabout is surrounded. The wrecking crews are converging from all directions. The traffic island whose geometry lends its name to the London home of tech start-ups, skinny jeans and wall-to-wall wall-art, is under siege. The decaying Victorian buildings which have incubated the successes and failures of the new information economy over the last few years are being torn down to make space for gleaming new steel and glass towers.

Silicon Roundabout was always a convenient, but somewhat misleading moniker. There are tech start-ups all over the city, with a significant number already housed in steel and glass at Canary Wharf – a very different social space from the coffee houses and boutiques of Hoxton and Shoreditch. Nevertheless the area does have a distinctive buzz, which it would be a shame to lose. According to one local estate agent, much of the new residential property is being bought off-plan by overseas investors looking for a safe haven for their cash, and may well remain empty once completed. And the office blocks creeping up Bishopsgate are mostly devoted to corporate finance and its besuited offshoots. Will the rather appealing well-heeled bohemian vibe survive the London property boom, or will the relentless march of investment capital clear yet another piece of the capital of lowlifes with less than six figure incomes?

  Demolition site, Hoxton                                        Private apartment block, City Road

Thanks to Steve Nathan for the estate agent research.  More pictures here.