At Untapped Cities, we like to cover bars and restaurants that are off-the-beaten path. Interesting history, attractive design, and a convivial atmosphere make these hard-to-find places worth the search. Hidden and obscure places don’t need to be exclusive or elite, they are more like hidden gems waiting to be found. In London, mews pubs offer this in spades.


londoncab-hackney-untapped-citiesA traditional London hackney carriage… Image Source: The Atlantic.

untapped-cities-nyc-yellow-taxi-1…Versus New York’s Yellow Medallion Taxis. Source: Wikimedia Commons

No two cities associate iconoclasm and uniformity with their taxi cabs like New York or London. While most assume the differences stop at color–yellow for New York, black for London–a stark contrast exists in who drives the cabs and what those drivers know. Prerequisites, the application process, the tools they use, and even the culture of the cabbies differ between the cities. We detail exactly where these differences exist–just remember that the word “knowledge” for a London cabbie is spelled with a capital “K” and is preceded with a definite article.


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1000 Londoners is a project of films and people–it’s like Humans of New York, but with videos, and all the speakers self-identify as “true Londoners.”  Anyone can be nominated and as such the interviewees reflect the colourful human landscape of London. This project is the brainchild of Mark Currie and Rachel Wang, the directors of Chocolate Films (a social enterprise film production formed in 2003).

‘The aim of the project is to get people in London talking, sharing their stories and understanding how everyone else lives.’ says Reece Lipman, one of the principal film makers. It was this diversity that triggered the concept of and commitment to the 1,000 Londoners project.


Charlotte's BIstro and Foubert's ice-creamery near Turnham Green in London

Charlotte’s BIstro and Foubert’s ice-creamery near Turnham Green in London

Turnham Green is an underground station in West London. When heading into London (for tea and cake) I generally go to the same places – I know they’re good and it’s easy to direct someone to somewhere you know how to get to. I deviated from the plan this week and went to Turnham Green. It’s on the District line near Hammersmith, and I’m glad I did! Many very nice looking shops, restaurants, cafe’s pubs, and various other services. These two caught my eye – for very different reasons.

Charlotte’s Bistro is a buzzing restaurant open for lunch and dinner as well as wine and cocktails. But mainly because it has my name in the title I looked closer — I’ll be coming back to enjoy some drinks here another time.

Foubert’s is an Italian ice-creamery, and the building itself is just so striking — it can’t be missed. They boast twenty delicious flavours of ice-cream, and have been serving it since 1978. This is the second location of the ice-creamery, it used to be round the corner on Chiswick High Road — lucky for all the locals addicted to is ice cream it didn’t go far!

Not illustrated but equally lovely, i Found Gail’s ca and bakery and stopped in for a tea and to be tempted by cakes before dinner. It’s on a corner close to Turnham Green as well, and has tow massive windows perfect for people watching and letting the world go by.

Get in touch with the author @charlsvallance and check out her blog. Check back every other Wednesday for the next installation of Art(chitecture) by Charlotte Vallance. Find designs by Charlotte Vallance on Society6.

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Like London? Like corgis? Like Twitter? Visit London has a fun social media campaign going on where you can win a 5 night trip to London if you follow @FindRufus the Corgi on Twitter and locate him on this fun illustrated map of London (hint: Read his latest tweets and zoom into the map). In this video, Rufus takes in what London has to offer, from riding the double decker buses, checking out the art at the Royal Academy, and the music at Royal Albert Hall, shopping in the old Spitfields covered market, dabbling in afternoon tea and closing the evening at the London Eye.  The competition goes until November 23rd.

If ever there was doubt over whether urbanism could be made cool, the launch of The Crystal, a new sustainable building by Siemens in London did just that. The building opens to the public on September 29th, and will be the world’s first center dedicated to improving our knowledge of urban sustainability, focusing on the technologies and solutions that can help bring the planet sustainably into the megacity era.

On Wednesday night, the facade of the building was illuminated into a live 3D art projection, a transformation I’ve only seen at electro parties and over the top fashion shows.  The show begins with a virtual flipping through of historic moments in sustainable urbanism, morphing into images of global cities such as New York, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro, with a population counter reminding us of the pace of urban growth. “Shape the Future” and “The Future Starts Here” the video projects as images of sustainable energy flash by.

Critical to this call for action is that “the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities.” Cities now consume about 75% of the world’s energy and emit around 80% of all greenhouse gases, says The Crystal website. By 2050, over 50% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Critical to these statistics will also be how cities quantify what is urban and not.

Fittingly, the building is located at the Royal Victoria Docks, the center of London’s new Green Enterprise District. Its name makes a direct reference to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, a landmark event in industrial technological advancement across disciplines.

Find out more about the Crystal Palace on the official website and on Siemens Global.

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.