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Competition: Culture Mile North-South route

Museum of London
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The City of London Corporation has launched a contest for a temporary £40,000-to-£60,000 wayfinding installation in the Culture Mile district

The competition seeks conceptual proposals for an innovative public-realm intervention intended to boost walkability within the Culture Mile’s north-south route connecting the Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London and the Barbican Centre.

The call for concepts – open to architects, designers and artists – will select a scheme to ‘animate and transform’ the route during both day and night. The winning proposal will be installed on site from autumn 2019 to spring 2020.

Chair of the corporations’ Policy and Resources Committee, Catherine McGuinness, said: ‘The north-south axis from the Barbican Centre to the Millennium Bridge is an important route, but one which many still find hard to reach and difficult to navigate.

‘This competition is another step towards realising our ambition to create an unrivalled experience and welcoming environment for everyone, whether passing through or there to enjoy this cultural and learning destination.’

The Culture Mile initiative, launched in 2017, will transform the north-west corner of the City of London between Moorgate and Farringdon into a cultural hub over the next 10 to 15 years.

An ideas contest for a series of Culture Mile ‘Summer Speculations’ was held two years ago.

The district will include three major building projects: the transformation of Beech Street; the new Museum of London designed by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan; and the proposed £200-£250 million Centre for Music by Diller Scofidio and Renfro.

Proposals in the latest competition will be expected to boost daytime and night-time ambience and may include lighting and other decorative features along with modular elements. Concepts must be accessible, sustainable and robust.

Applications should include examples of previous work, a conceptual vision illustrated with sketches and a 600-word description, and an estimated project budget. Judges will include City Public Realm senior manager Sarah Jane Enson; Melodie Leung, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects; and Culture Mile manager Tim Jones.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 19 July. 

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: sarahjane.enson@cityoflondon.gov.uk 



Tim Jones, culture Mile Manager

Tim Jones

Tim Jones

Source: Image by James Smith

Tim Jones

Why are your holding an open call for a new wayfinding installation on the Culture Mile North-South route?

Culture Mile provides a unique opportunity to transform the look and feel of the City of London through imaginative collaborations and exciting events. A key aspect of bringing the area to life will involve welcoming people into the area. 6 million people cross the Millennium Bridge annually to visit St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate, but many don’t realise that the Museum of London is 7 minutes’ walk, and the Barbican is just over 10 minutes’ walk. We hope that this installation will improve the wayfinding between Culture Mile and the St Paul’s area. We take an iterative approach to making changes to the public realm and collaborating with creatives is a great way to test new ideas and influence the future vision for the area.

What is your vision for the new temporary installation?

We want designs which improve connectivity and wayfinding while enlivening the public realm. The competition brief has purposely been left wide to enable entrants to be as creative as possible and submit concepts which reflect the strengths of their vision and experience. The design will be installed in time for winter, so one aspect we will be looking at is how it brings the area to life for pedestrians over the darker winter months.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We hope that applicants will have experience in installing their design in a public space, as this is the ultimate goal. Applicants from far and wide are welcome to apply but they will need to be available to build and manage the works here in the City of London.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Culture Mile has had a number of design commissions historically, the most recent being the wonderful House of Wayward Plants in Smithfield Rotunda, by Wayward, which is in situ until late September. We are still working out the public realm programme for 2020/2021, but we are confident that new commissions and open calls will continue to play a central role in bringing imaginative, exciting designs to the area.

Are there any other recent wayfinding installations you have been impressed by?

Locally we really like what’s happening at Better Bankside, they’ve just installed Better Air benches to improve air quality and have some great projects which are improving the area. We’re really looking forward to seeing the opening of Illuminated River which we supported and is on our doorstep, we’re excited to see how it brings such a historical and iconic area to life. Also in London, Gordon Young’s Trading Words typographic trail at London Dock, Wapping is a great example of using contemporary means to reflect heritage.

Internationally we’ve been impressed by Quartier des spectacles Montreal, where they have really taken lighting design to a new level and are using artistic lighting to improve wayfinding and deliver placemaking. New York’s High Line, featuring TerraMai’s Reclaimed Decking & Benches are also fantastic, it’s brilliantly introduced sustainability into the public realm.

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