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January 21, 2015

They've cancelled the world's longest urban trampoline

By City Monitor Staff

This sucks. This is like the worst thing ever. I hate you. I’m going to my room.

Less than two months after it was announced by the Mayor of London, the giant trampoline “Bounceway” planned for the Southbank appears to have been quietly scrapped by TfL, Labour London Assembly Member Val Shawcross AM has learnt.

Well thank you very much, Boris. And thank you too, Labour London Assembly Member Val Shawcross AM for bringing it to our attention. Thank you for ruining everything.

The Bounceway, lest we forget, was meant to be the “world’s longest urban trampoline” (a fiercely contested title, I’m sure you’ll agree). The brainchild of the non-profit Architecture for Humanity (AfH) group, it was due to receive funding from the £1.8m “Future Streets Incubator” fund; that was due to pay for 10 assorted schemes that’d do cool things with public space. If it had gone ahead it would have been covered in happy black and white children and would have looked like this:

But now, this has happened. From a Labour party press release (grammar and punctuation choices theirs):

Under questioning from John Biggs AM at a recent GLA Budget Committee meeting the Mayor admitted the Bounceway had been dropped stating “I was very disappointed to see the fatwa issued by Sir Peter against the trampoline who decided, who gave a statement, that it wasn’t a mode of transport.” The Mayor continued “it doesn’t seem to me at first blush to serve any immediate transport purposes.”

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All mention of the Bounceway has also been removed from the TfL ‘Future Streets Incubator’ project website.

And we’ve checked. It has. Where once were 10, now just nine remain. The Bounceway is no more.

In an email Beth Worth, a trustee of AfH’s London office, clarified “a number of inaccurcies” in the Labour party’s statement. Firstly, she said, the project hadn’t actually been cancelled: technically, it was never green-lit (boo). It wasn’t going to be a tourist attraction by the London Eye: in fact, they were looking at a site in a deprived residential community up-stream in Vauxhall. 

And it wasn’t going to be anything like s expensive as the press release implied: the maximum amount of cash was on offer was just £75k, and even that was dependent on AfH raising match funding. In fact, it wasn’t money they had stmied the project, but, er, bad press.

“The unfortunate early leak to the press led to public criticism from a humourless member of the opposition,” she explained. “But there is still enthusiasm for it both inside and outside TfL. Bouncing is not dead.” Perhaps not. But it’s certainly not looking very lively.

On one level, this is perfectly sensible, because TfL is London’s transport department, and however much fun trampolines are, they are definitely not a form of transport. London already has one tourist attraction pretending to be a form of transportation. It doesn’t need another, and as fun as the Bounceway looks, it’s a bit mystifying what TfL have to do with the thing.

On another level though, this just sucks. It’s awful. Thanks, Boris. Thanks a lot.

All images courtesy of Architecture for Humanity. Artists: Monica Landivar & Tom Green.

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