AJ Exclusive: John McAslan's Smithfield overhaul plans revealed
The AJ can exclusively reveal the latest proposals for the contentious redevelopment of Smithfield market in London
Architect John McAslan + Partners has been working with current owners Henderson Global Investors on the retail and office-led plans for the General Market, Fish Market and Red House buildings since summer 2010 and will officially present its designs to the public next week (19 October).
A previous, highly controversial proposal for the historic site drawn up by KPF, which would have seen much of the existing Victorian buildings flattened, was famously rejected by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears in August 2008 following a four-year battle. Despite approval from the City of London planners, the minister blocked the plans for a massive commercial development claiming they would ‘cause harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area and the setting of listed buildings’.
In late 2008 developer Thornfield turned to McAslan to come up with more sensitive designs - but the project was again thrown into doubt when Thornfield Ventures went into administration in January 2010 (see AJ 08.01.2010).
The plot was subsequently picked up by Henderson Global Investors. The all new scheme will, the developers claim, ‘preserve the historic identity of the market buildings through the retention, restoration and reuse of the most significant parts of the historic buildings while bringing much-needed new investment and active, informal uses to West Smithfield and the Farringdon area in the City of London.’
Kevin Lloyd, of John McAslan + Partners, said: ‘The scheme is of a scale which balances the character and setting of the historic market, with a high quality and complementary contemporary development.’
‘The ground floors of the General Market, the Fish Market, the Red House and the old engine house will be put into reuse for restaurant and retail uses for local residents, workers, visitors and tourists, following extensive refurbishment and some adaption. The space will include a two part piazza (part external and part internal) within the General Market building and will be arranged to provide much needed vibrant and visually attractive activity to the neighbouring streets of all the buildings, as well as an internal focus to the ground floors of the general market and annexe, reopening the buildings to public use along a through route from Harts Corner to West Smithfield and then on to Snow Hill. The majority of the Victorian perimeter of the General Market, and the entirety of the Fish market and the old engine house, will be retained and receive much needed extensive restoration and refurbishment.
‘The existing buildings will be enhanced with the sensitive inclusion of new low rise pavilions of office space to the central area of the General Market that will be arranged above the generously proportioned retail space set back from, and framed by, the retained Victorian buildings creating a curtilage on three sides.
‘In the Annex Building, the ground floor will comprise restaurant and retail units located within the retained and restored Fish Market arranged on either side of the existing passage. The underwhelming and out of context 1960’s storage area that currently sits between the Red House and the old Fish market will be replaced with new office space arranged over six upper floors that will be “contained” by the retained and restored Victorian perimeter walls of the Red House and by the newly restored Fish Market.
‘The former engine house will also accommodate a small retail unit on the ground floor within the restored façade, with half a storey of plant on the roof with louvre surrounds.
‘The design offers the sensitive integration of new space with the restored historic elements of the Victorian buildings that creates a complimentary and positive dialogue between the two.
‘The proposed development has very good existing transport links and is easily accessible through a number of underground, rail and bus links and is located within very close proximity to a wide range of local amenities. The nearby CrossRail station at Farringdon will open in 2018. Motorcycle and cycle parking and changing facilities will be provided.
Kevin Lloyd, of John McAslan + Partners, said:
“We are delighted to be working with Henderson to deliver their vision for Smithfield Quarter, in one of the City’s most vibrant urban areas. The scheme is of a scale which balances the character and setting of the historic market, with a high quality and complementary contemporary development.”