Winning design by young architects comes to life
Back in 2019, London Marathon Events launched a competition for young architects to design new mile markers for the iconic London Marathon course. Fast forward three years and the winning design – delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic – has finally been brought to life and will feature at every mile of this year’s TCS London Marathon course.
The winning design was submitted by young architects Chantal Banker, Davina Lyn, Akhis Rashid and Haider Bokhari, who were supported throughout the project by Blueprint for All – a charity that helps provide young people with knowledge, skills and opportunities to build their career aspirations.
A replica mile marker has been created for this year’s TCS London Marathon Running Show to showcase the hard work of all those involved in the project ahead of the mile markers’ first official ‘outing’ at the 2022 TCS London Marathon on Sunday.
Banker and Lyn were at the TCS London Marathon Running Show on its opening day to celebrate their winning design becoming a reality and catch up with the organisations they collaborated with to make it happen. From mentor architects at Blueprint for All to organisations like Scaled – which sourced the raw materials and constructed the markers – and Keep Britain Tidy, everyone involved believed passionately in the project and is thrilled to see the finished product come to life.
Seeing the project come to life
“It’s bittersweet to see the mile markers in the ‘flesh’ because it feels like the end of an amazing journey,” said Banker. “There were a lot of difficulties along the way, but the design is very close to our original concept, so we’re really proud of that.
“It was a long journey, but a really good one. It was a brilliant project to be involved in. I’m sure I’ll feel emotional when I see the mile markers on the London Marathon course on Sunday. Not a lot of students have the opportunity to collaborate with a big client like London Marathon Events and build something really meaningful.”
Lyn agreed, saying: “It’s been a really interesting journey. We started with the idea of runners, and running together, then we applied that idea to nature and came up with the bees and the beehive idea, which led us to the hexagon shapes we’ve incorporated in the design.
“Sustainability was really important to us from the start, which is where the 3D printing came into the project. It’s the first project of its kind so we’re really proud of that.”
Created from four tonnes of plastic waste
The mile markers have been constructed by Scaled using a variety of raw materials, including waste materials from London Marathon Events and four tonnes of plastic waste collected from beaches in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall by Keep Britain Tidy volunteers.
“We needed to find a source for the recycled material,” explained David Speight, co-founder of Scaled. “So we used a combination of recycled plastic and plastic boards – 7.5 tonnes came from old London Marathon signage and T-shirts, and about four tonnes from Keep Britain Tidy’s ocean recovery team collecting plastic from beaches.
“Scaled is an engineering company with lots of large-format 3D printing machines, which we used to create parts of the structures, while other parts were created using old signage from events, which is great for the environment as this waste hasn’t had to be burned or go to landfill. We hope the mile markers will last at least 10 years.”
Positive impact on the environment
The positive impact on the environment doesn’t end there though. Projects like the new London Marathon mile markers offer communities the opportunity to make a real impact on the world around us and go far beyond the finished product itself.
For the volunteers who worked with Keep Britain Tidy to collect the waste, the project not only offered the chance to help clean up Britain’s beaches but to contribute a more sustainable London Marathon.
“We worked with so many volunteers and partners to collect all the plastic,” said Andrea Crump, Chief Operating Officer at Keep Britain Tidy. “Four tonnes is a lot of plastic to collect and requires a lot of beach cleaning, but being part of the mile marker project and working collaboratively to bring it together shows you can help protect your environment while being part of something much bigger, something really inspirational.
“The mile markers will be used for years to come, so to know the hard work that went into the designs and all the volunteers who contributed and brought this to life is really amazing.”
Keeping the design idea alive
Three years after the competition to design the mile markers was launched, everyone involved is looking forward to seeing the structures lining the TCS London Marathon route on Sunday. There’s no doubt the original goal of the competition has been achieved, according to Magnus Menzefricke-Koitz, architect mentor from Blueprint for All and one of the judges.
“The premise of the competition was to give young people the opportunity to find out what it means to be an architect,” he said.
“They needed to put a design together for the competition, but they also needed to interpret a client brief – a very complex one for the mile marker – come up with a design proposal, present the design and win the pitch – all before the work on the mile markers actually started.”
Going through it together
“It’s a great project because it gave the students the opportunity to see something they designed become a 3D object. We had Covid in between the design starting and seeing it come to fruition, so it was challenging to keep everyone engaged but it was great that everyone involved was very committed and excited. Davina and Chantal kept everything alive from a design point of view.
“The design they presented is not 100 per cent what we see here, it has evolved, and we’ve all learnt as part of that evolution as we went through it together.”
‘Going through it together’ is sure to resonate with the participants taking part on Sunday, who will be able to tick off the amazing new mile markers as they make their marathon journey to the world-famous Finish Line on The Mall.