Drive-By Design: A billboard by Zaha Hadid proposed for London

Architecture Design National Newsletter
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International outdoor advertising and street furnishings firm JCDecaux and Zaha Hadid Architects have proposed a new billboard design for a busy London intersection. The Paris-based JCDecaux has quite the history of collaborating with high-profile architects and designers—Peter Eisenman, Robert Stern, Gae Aulenti, Philippe Starck, and Lord Norman Foster among them.

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From an improbable aerial view, the project looks promising.

But on the ground, its aesthetic traction is questionable. The design is a retread, both in its resemblance to defective tires and with regard to Hadid’s canon of mobius-like creations.

The pedestrian experience—no pun intended—doesn’t look to be enhanced, either, even though the proposed structure is narrower than the existing advertising kiosk.

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Could a case be made that such eye-catching, animated structures might contribute to distracted driving? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. The U.S. Department of Transportation conducted a study that concluded digital billboards are no more distracting than stationary signage. But an investigation by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute came to a very different finding, which led to the removal of all such advertisements.

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