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Eric Parry Architects

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AJ Kiosk submission: Eric Parry, principal, Eric Parry Architects

‘Kiosk’ is one of the lineage of ‘useful’ urban-scaled artefacts like the post box, phone box, market stall, cabbies’ hut, news stand, info point and drinking fountain that, eclipsed in some forms, still have a real draw.

One of the particularities of its Ottoman predecessors is their elevation into unabashed objects of reverie and aesthetic pleasure - I am struck by their generosity and welcoming overhangings and the haptic sensuality of their materials and crafting and these qualities made their way into this design for a contemporary London equivalent. I chose Soho Square because it is already home to urban wanderers, caught between the voracious consumerism of Oxford Street and the urban underbelly of Soho: a place about to be shocked by the surge created by Crossrail - where better to create a victualing spot?

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Overhangs at the plan corners shelter vending points

The plan form was a response to the kiosk having overlapping uses - ice cream vendor, coffee stall, news stand - that could have their own orientations and windows within a single small building. The scale of those architectural elements beckon, like a church portal framing the doorway - an intermediate scale between the units of construction and the surrounding landscape, an astounding plane tree canopy. The inflected walls, like the overhangs, embrace: two are given to benches while the third contains two drinking fountains at different heights and the fissure at the breaking point that contains the roof drainage.

The material is intended to have a monumentality: stacked faience units with a viscous glaze to disturb the surface and reflect light. The deep hues of the ceramic are contrasted with the rippling, silvered metalwork, the form of which springs from the vertical constraint and support of the walls.

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