Four Clerkenwell-based practices - Coffey Architects, Madoc Architecture, Pilbrow and Partners and UHA London - have created plans for the redevelopment of Clerkenwell Green.
The four teams took part in a one-day charette, which was hosted by Sto Werkstatt with INSIDE World Festival for Interiors, which asked them to reimagine the space and to come up with proposals which would enhance the area’s identity.
Each team then presented their ideas to the panel of judges, which included: Paul Finch, editorial director, Architects’ Journal; Chris Wilkinson, director, Wilkinson Eyre Architects; Stuart Piercy, director, Piercy & Co; Ruth Ainger, director, Brands Ltd; Jeremy Melvin, principal, Urbik; and Roger Zogolovitch, chairman, Lake Estates Limited.
Commenting on the brief, Paul Finch said: ‘In some ways Clerkenwell Green could be regarded as an urban room, a city interior which in its current condition is sorely in need of design inspiration. This is a chance to show how the Green’s potential could be better realised.’
Pascal Madoc Jones, director of Madoc Architecture described his practice’s vision for Clerkenwell Green which would see the space cleared of cars and fully pedestrianized, with new buildings ‘plugging’ the unsightly view towards the railway tracks.
Fred Pilbrow, director of Pilbrow and Partners similarly spoke of the way his practice would plug the view towards the south west, with a publically-accessible pavilion that would provide rooftop views over the Clerkenwell Green.
Clerkenwell’s radical heritage was the focus for Phil Coffey, director of Coffey Architects, who imagined a ‘People’s Republic of Clerkenwell Green’ where all rules would be lifted, while UHA London decided to reference the area’s watchmaking history with a series of monumental timekeeping devices installed at the Green.
Dissent in Clerkenwell Green was nurtured by the warrens of alleyways, courts and lanes that isolated it from genteel London. This protection was bulldozed away by the railway cutting, the new Clerkenwell & Farringdon Roads and Islington’s demolition policies. Our proposals work with the precious medieval grain and provide a framework for future construction.
The Green is freed completely of cars, and the paving arranged as a meta amp pointing towards significant events in British dissent – Orgreve, the Bryant & May factory, Tolpuddle.
New buildings plug the view leakage to the south west, reintroduce the small square by the church steps, complete the north edge and wrap around the church. The new smaller spaces return the primacy of the Green as the main public space.
New buildings over the tracks complete the bastion against the encroaching City and transform Turnmill Street from blandness to the scale of the Clerkenwell Green area.
Pascal Madoc Jones
Pilbrow and Partners
Our proposals heal the unfortunate break in the continuity of buildings around Clerkenwell Green.
Sessions House at its western end was originally set between the Green and the grand Farringdon boulevard that had just been created by enclosing the River Fleet. Today, however, a railway cutting provides a much less attractive prospect from the Green to the north of Sessions House.
Sessions House itself was extended to the south at the time of the creation of the Clerkenwell Road. Our balancing northern extension is conceived as a temporary (and replaceable) pavilion which both holds the edge of the space and provides new vantage points across it. A ground floor gallery is partly open to the sky with a generous stair rising through this void to deliver visitors to a terrace enjoying views back to the Green.
Fred Pilbrow, Sam Yousif, Steve Ward
This project proposes renaming Farringdon and creating a new transport interchange where pedestrians arrive in the centre of Clerkenwell Green. The history of this part of London is steeped in dissent, London’s centre of protest. The proposals reinforce this history, creating a fiefdom defined by gates within which a bylaw states: ‘No rules apply’. Visitors can park, drink, smoke, skateboard, camp, protest, relax, undress, wear hoodies, set up shop, squat, have barbecues, play ball games, heavy pet, build tall, build deep, build freely.
This project does not aim to ‘tidy-up’ Clerkenwell Green, to fill its gaps, to create another well-proportioned urban room. We like it just the way it is… an urban realm defined by disruption and a reactive approach. Clerkenwell is about its people: past, present and future. This project is a provocative anthropological experiment which aims to maintain Clerkenwell as the creative capital of London, free from the rules that govern us…an anti-commercial place that is distinct from the shops and glass towers that encroach from both east and west. A real place to arrive, a place like no other… Welcome to the ‘People’s Republic of Clerkenwell Green’.
Clerkenwell Green is a misnomer - there is no green at ground level. This lack of Green – in part due to the excess number of parked cars, coupled with a lack of facilities for families - is problematic. By contrast, the green canopy provided by mature trees that inhabit the space are delightful, but only fully appreciated at high level.
The current lack of activity at the heart of the Green - characterised by poor quality hard landscaping and a lack of useable urban furniture - led UHA LONDON to propose a series of kinetic structures to encourage movement: to recreate a ‘village green’ or park atmosphere where one might find a fairground or play area, while simultaneously enhancing the perception of the green canopy, through a series of elevated viewing platforms.
Drawing on the historic Clerkenwell watchmaking industry, these anchors take the form of interactive timekeeping devices, which may be manually wound or pushed or indeed ridden like a fairground attraction. The various devices proposed, mark the evolution of timekeeping through the ages – a sundial to the south of the Green; a water clock that inhabits and puts to beneficial use the redundant public lavatories; mechanical timepieces that are staircases to tree canopy level and digital projections from the trees to the ground that mark the dawn of the fourth machine age.
Ricardo Mateu, Dicky Lewis, Emerson Reece, Philip Wilson