The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) has announced an open international contest to rethink a triangular public space outside London Bridge Station
Open to architects, designers and artists, the competition seeks innovative proposals for a £23,000 installation intended to improve the streetscape and assist wayfinding for visitors arriving in the area from the station, which recently received a £1 billion overhaul by Grimshaw.
The project, backed by Team London Bridge, aims to transform the ‘busy but unremarkable’ plot on Tooley Street into a space where pedestrians can reorientate themselves around the area’s many hidden landmarks, including the riverside, City Hall, Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market.
London Festival of Architecture director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘Hundreds of people pass through London Bridge station every day, and this competition is an opportunity to demonstrate how good design can make a difference even in everyday spaces. We are grateful to Team London Bridge for creating a brilliant opportunity to champion design talent in London, and to foster positive and lasting change to London’s public realm.’
Team London Bridge executive director Nadia Broccardo said: ‘As people navigate their way around the new London Bridge station, we have a chance to alter their preferred routes and behaviours through clever public realm design. This competition offers someone the chance to have their design seen by millions of people every year, and encourage people to use routes with cleaner air while providing more pleasant ways to explore London Bridge.’
London Bridge Station is one of the oldest railway stations in the world and handles around 50 million passengers every year. The ancient area surrounding the station is extremely densely developed with a mix of new and old buildings, which can make first arrivals and wayfinding confusing.
The competition aims to deliver a lasting legacy for the area, upgrading the surrounding streetscape as well as overcoming some of London Bridge’s wayfinding challenges.
The call for submissions is the third to be launched by the LFA this year, which announced a contest for a series of public benches in the City of London in March and for a temporary pavilion outside the Dulwich Picture Gallery in February.
Judges for the London Bridge Triangle will include Thomson, Jack Skillen from Team London Bridge, dRMM director Jonas Lencer, and Southwark Council head of highways Matthew Hill. Shortlisted designs will be exhibited in June and an overall winner will be revealed in July.
The deadline for applications is 3pm, 5 June.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
Jack Skillen, placemaking director at Team London Bridge
Why are your holding this competition?
London Bridge is one of the focus areas for this year’s London Festival of Architecture, and as well as a wide range of exciting events during the festival in June, we wanted to take the opportunity to leave a useful legacy behind. Following the recently completed £1 billion redevelopment of London Bridge station, we identified the Tooley Street Triangle – an unremarkable piece of pedestrian infrastructure – as a suitable focus for intervention. As well as improving the appearance of the streetscape, we want to improve wayfinding for the hundreds of thousands of people using the station and surrounding area every day.
What is your vision for the new wayfinding installation?
The installation is important in the context of Team London Bridge’s Culture Strategy, which puts the onus on using the public realm for cultural activities, and will improve connections with the many important cultural and other landmarks in and around London Bridge. For the London Festival of Architecture, it’s a vehicle to promote architectural and design talent, and to encourage positive change to London’s public realm. Sustainable issues are an important part of the brief and, as part of our Low Emissions Neighbourhood project funded by the mayor of London, will promote clean air routes that people can easily choose over more major streets that are more polluted.
We are making no preconditions about facilities or aesthetics beyond the key wayfinding function. The triangle itself is very small – only a few square metres – but very prominent nevertheless on a site immediately in front of London Bridge station. Given the space constraints, prominent location and £20,000 budget, entrants will need to use lots of intelligence and imagination, but we’re confident of a fantastic response.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
We have put out a broad call to architects, designers and artists, and we will welcome entries from smaller emerging practices and hitherto unknown talent. As part of the London Festival of Architecture, the project will enjoy media coverage and, given the prominence of the project, it’s possible that this could be a breakthrough project for someone or their practice.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon?
The competition is the latest in a series of design competitions organised by the London Festival of Architecture, including the second Dulwich Pavilion and a series of benches in the City of London. The London Festival of Architecture team is demonstrating real skill in putting together design competitions that not only produce great results but also showcase London as a global hub for architectural and design excellence.
Are there any other wayfinding installation projects you have been impressed by?
Paris is hard to beat in terms of combining culture and playfulness to emphasise evolving elements of the urban landsacape. They have such a rich history of ephemeral projects (which become permanent), starting with the Eiffel Tower, but also the ‘Colonnes’ by Daniel Buren in the 80s, and recently I loved the floating gardens by Jean Christophe Chobet (who also designed Paris Plage), part of a series of elements transforming a walk along the left bank.