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Love Locks
25 Oct 2014 16:51     A+ | a-
Whether you think the craze for 'love locks' (padlocks on railings) is ugly and burdensome, or romantic and interesting, it is certainly an example of people engaging with landscape, and therefore to be celebrated.
The problem comes when those landscapes, usually bridges (although in Paris particularly, they seem to be spreading - for example, the railings near the Sacre Coeur Cathedral are beginning to be similarly festooned) have not been designed to take the load, or with the aesthetic in mind. There are those who bemoan the loss of the view from the Pont des Arts, and it has certainly been a structural victim of the padlock's success, having had one of its bars weakened and bent by the weight of the padlocks attached to it.
In this picture of Bakewell's more modern 'Somerfield Bridge' (so named because of its connection to Section 106 money), you can see that similar structural problems are beginning to occur.

Our picture of the Pont des Arts was taken in Autumn 2014, after the locks have reportedly been cut off at least once - clearly people keep coming back for more. It is interesting to note the power of tradition and superstition, and also of people who have some control over their landscape, and what they choose to do with it.

Working with communities, we have had experience of what a wonderful thing it can be when people have an interest and a stake in their surroundings. If a community has contributed to a design, they are far more likely to engage with it, and take care of it. With maintenance often a problem in these times of austerity, this is an especially important point.
From the Pont des Arts in Paris, to Bakewell's pedestrian river crossing, this modern tradition appears to be here to stay - perhaps we need to start designing for it.

By Amanda McDermott CMLI
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