plans for a new neighborhood at historic cultural site
The city of London is currently working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on plans to transform the London Wall West. The site — home the the Museum of London and the Bastion House — is currently under review as the museum is planned to relocate to a new home in the UK capital’s West Smithfield neighborhood and the 1970s-era Bastion House office building no longer meets modern standards. The new neighborhood — aiming toward Net Zero by 2040 — will introduce to the area new offices, exhibition and cultural spaces, restaurants and cafés, and landscaped parks.
During the very first planning stages for the new site, the city claims to have spoken directly to residents of the neighborhood at public exhibitions to ‘understand their priorities and ensure the London Wall West meets as many of these priorities as possible.’
If plans are approved, the project will see the demolition of the two historic buildings. The team claims to have investigated the feasibility of adaptive reuse versus demolition and new build, concluding new construction to be the best possible option for the highest-performing architecture.
Now, a campaign has been launched to save the Bastion House and the Museum of London, with locals praising the irreplaceable qualities of the spaces. According to BBC, nearly ‘90% of residents have voted for an alternative to demolition’ (see here).
images courtesy City of London
the design of the new london wall west
London Wall West (see here) is planned to occupy the site of the Barbican complex, a district created in the 1960s and 1970s to rebuild a bomb-damaged area of London. Currently, the quarter is characterized by its urban fabric of concrete, brick, and stone — a character which the city seeks to replace with lush vegetation and a more ‘welcoming’ zone by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (see here) and local architects Sheppard Robson.
The design team hoped to achieve this green and welcoming quality by planning a collection of open public spaces, each serving as a ‘relief from the buzz of the city.’
The public spaces are proposed to host small-scale gatherings and events, as well as intimate areas for relaxation within nature. The multi-story development — below, on, and above the level of the street — will take shape as a swath of nature with landscape architecture by Gross Max, even aiming to create a new, biodiverse ecosystem with habitats for birds and insects.
the public spaces in detail
These public areas include: Barber Surgeons’ Hall Garden, with improvements and re-wilding to the existing gardens and access to the Roman Wall; The Central Plaza, a street-level public space flanked retail and the cultural anchor space; The Northern Garden, created by decking over the existing service yard, a quiet space with small seating areas amongst trees; The Glade, a new meadow-like garden at highwalk level and the center-piece of the new scheme; Aldersgate Plaza, the enhanced setting of the Ironmongers’ Hall, its heritage value acknowledged as a landmark that should be more accessible from the street.
view of the Central Plaza
culture, learning, community
Located at the heart of Culture Mile, London Wall West will be a new and vibrant destination, providing an inclusive cultural, learning and community offer that enhances this unique part of the City, making it more accessible, connected and collaborative.
An exciting, year-round cultural program, incorporating events, exhibitions, live performance, residencies and public art commissions. These will take place within a series of spaces across London Wall West, including a flexible auditorium, rooftop performance space, and potential for outdoor programming throughout the public realm.
view of the central events space within the heart of the Plaza
the culture spaces
These cultural spaces include a flexible performance and event space in the heart of the development; a cluster of creative and cultural organizations that will share resources and knowledge at lower ground level; publicly visible spaces for creative production, community and learning space at highwalk level; large-scale internal/external digital art projection from the lobby along with a flexible educational, music and performance space at the entrance lobby and top of the Rotunda building;
Along the rooftop, a public, landscaped roof terrace with seating areas will frame views to the south to St Paul’s Cathedral and down to the Thames. The roof will also integrate a public garden room and lounge area for meeting and relaxing, or convening small groups and activities, with the skyline view beyond.
london wall west: aiming toward net-zero
The city of London claims that London Wall West will be a net zero carbon development in line with the city’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2040. The proposed scheme’s embodied carbon will be reduced through lean design and the careful selection of materials. For example, the structure will use high-strength steel in columns and concrete will include the use of 50% cement replacement.
The buildings’ operational carbon emissions will be reduced with a high-performance façade limiting demands for heating and cooling balanced with good daylighting and the use of high-efficiency active systems. The development will also incorporate renewable energy systems appropriate to the location. By promoting electrically-driven systems above fossil-fuel based systems the development will be good for local air-quality.
view of the Glade
offices fit for the ‘future of work’
The city notes that London Wall West will provide a fantastic opportunity to provide the type of office space that can help ensure that Square Mile remains a global business center that can deliver wider benefits to London and the UK. The team continues: ‘In order to do this, we must recognize that occupiers have new demands — not least in terms of the facilities a building offers and how it contributes positively to the working environment.
‘The office remains an important part of modern working, as companies see it as key to building team culture and to ensuring that they can continue to attract and retain the best staff.‘
Offices have long been organized to maximize the quantity of desk space throughout. The amount of office space a company required was thus informed solely by the number of workers. Now, trends have seen the density of desks decrease with break out spaces, social spaces, and amenities increase to boost wellbeing, productivity, and improve staff retention. ‘A lot of space now goes to areas other than just ‘the desk,‘ the team notes.
view of the Northern Garden
project title: London Wall West
landscape architecture: Gross Max Landscape Architects
structure: Buro Happold
developer: Gerald Eve
client: City of London
status: consultation process, determination expected Spring 2023
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