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Design teams sought for Smithfield markets redevelopment

Smithfield meat market tower1 image by james ketteringham
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The City of London Corporation is recruiting a pair of design teams for a major regeneration of its Grade II*-listed Smithfield wholesale market complex

The first team will draw up plans to transform the 150-year-old Horace Jones-designed East and West Market buildings, currently used for trading meat, into a mixed-use commercial, creative and cultural quarter. The estimated £200,000 contract covers the development of concepts up to RIBA Stage 2.

The second team – working under an estimated £400,000 contract – will meanwhile create a public realm vision for a new ‘high-quality, human-centred, and integrated’ civic space surrounding the historic structures which are due to be vacated following the planned future relocation of market activities to Dagenham Dock.

According to the brief: ’The City is looking to consolidate the operations of the meat market with those of Billingsgate Fish Market and Spitalfields Fruit and Veg Market into one site, in outer London. One consequence of this would be that the current Smithfield meat market buildings would be adapted to different uses.

‘The City’s challenge and opportunity is to reimagine a nationally significant landmark and secure the legacy of the Grade II* listed East and West Smithfield buildings for the next 150 years, ensuring the site makes a strong economic and social contribution to London and visitors/ residents continue to enjoy this special location. A mixed-use, dynamic, vibrant and 24-hour economy outcome is desired, one that complements the other City projects happening in the area.’

Located on the north west fringe of the Square Mile, Smithfield has been a centre of market trading for more than 800 years. The current market complex – featuring extensive basements – was created in the mid-nineteenth century.

Smithfield’s General Market, Fish Market, Red House and Poultry Market are due to be transformed into a £332 million new home for the Museum of London. Designed by Stanton Williams, Asif Khan and Julian Harrap Architects – the project is due to complete in 2024.

Earlier this year, the City launched a public consultation on plans to relocate and combine its existing wholesale markets – Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields – at Dagenham Dock in east London.

The initiative will see the three historic markets, trading meat, fish, and fruit and vegetables – repositioned on a waterfront site with key road and rail connections which could help to tackle traffic congestion and improve air quality in the capital.

The latest redevelopment project – planned to complete in 2025 – will see the East and West Market buildings, their basements and a neighbouring Grade II-listed rotunda converted into a new mixed-use hub for independent and creative-led businesses. Regeneration plans are expected to include retail, food and beverage, leisure, hotel, and commercial uses.

As part of the scheme the surrounding land will be upgraded to form a new public civic space intended to support and enhance emerging strategies for the district such as the Culture Mile.

The markets redevelopment deadline is 5pm on 30 August and the public realm deadline is 5pm on 27 August.

How to apply

View the Smithfield East and West Market buildings contract notice and Smithfield public realm contract notice for more information

Contact details

City of London Corporation

Tel: +44 2076063030
Email: Jade.Marjurum@cityoflondon.gov.uk



Peter Lisley, director of major projects at the City of London Corporation

Peter Lisley

Peter Lisley

Peter Lisley

What is your vision for the future of the Smithfield markets, basement, rotunda and surrounding public realm?

The City of London Corporation runs three wholesale food markets – Billingsgate Fish Market (Canary Wharf), New Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable Market (Leyton), and Smithfield Meat Market (Farringdon). It is currently consulting the public on proposals to consolidate these markets at Dagenham Dock. If the decision is taken to relocate Smithfield Market, it will present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sensitively ‘reimagine’ this historic site. As custodians of the Square Mile, and the important places within it, the City Corporation is mindful of the need to protect the Grade II*-listed East and West Market buildings, their basement, and the associated Grade II-listed Rotunda.

In response to the changing nature of the surrounding area and in anticipation of the Market’s proposed move, the City Corporation is looking to appoint a heritage qualified architectural practice to help consider the future of these important buildings. Within the limits of the listing, the City Corporation is commissioning concept designs for a development that connects with the area and enables a wide range of cultural activities – i.e. one that will take advantage of the new connections to be provided by the Elizabeth Line and complement both the new Museum of London, which will move to the General Market building and elements of the Poultry Market, and the wider Culture Mile, which aims to put culture and creativity at the heart of the area. World-class design and innovation, sustainability, and respecting the legacy of the site are core themes in the vision statement contained in the overall brief.

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

The City of London Corporation is undertaking a two-stage OJEU tender process to enable practices from across the world to compete for this opportunity. This open and transparent process allows for all sizes of firms to compete, including emerging practices, independently, or as part of a consortium. International firms are not required to collaborate with local firms to apply. However, there is a definite requirement in the brief to study the site in detail and work closely with nearby stakeholders. This is an important site for the City Corporation and more broadly, London, and represents an exciting opportunity to help secure its future for generations to come.

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

The architectural commission that focuses on the market buildings sits alongside a separate procurement for a Smithfield Area Public Realm design from Farringdon to Beech Street. This area is the western part of Culture Mile, a new destination and the creative heart of the City. Culture Mile is an initiative led by the City of London Corporation, in partnership with the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London. Although the commissions will be awarded separately, the winning designers will need to work together in order to ensure that the market structures seamlessly interrelate with their surrounding environs, and that the broader public realm complements the emerging uses of the various buildings across the area. Key considerations for the public realm work will be the recently approved City Transport Strategy and the Healthy Streets Approach, as well as the new Museum of London’s relocation to the General Market and elements of the Poultry Market, which are being designed by Stanton Williams and Asif Kahn. The City Corporation sees this area coming together as an exciting and holistic space that will work for residents, commuters, and visitors alike.

Are there any other recent markets redevelopment projects you have been impressed by?

Part of the work throughout 2020 will be to research recent market development projects and possibly, to adopt the best elements for Smithfield. Some international examples of note include Time Out Market in Lisbon; Freyssinet Hall, a former train depot in Paris; and Chelsea Market in New York City.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • "sensitively ‘reimagine’ this historic site", eh? Fair enough. But the Corp wasn't all that "mindful" of its quality a few years ago when it greenlit the destructive first scheme for offices in the building now earmarked for the MoL. And that means three schemes running simultaneously in a tight area. Should be fun.

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