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Charles Holland wins London Bridge wayfinding contest

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Charles Holland Architects has won the London Festival of Architecture’s (LFA) competition to rethink a triangular public space outside London Bridge Station

The former FAT director’s practice was chosen ahead of rival bids by CAN with Eddie Blake, M2R arquitectos, make:good, S’il Te Plait Group, and White Red Architects for the landmark commission.

Open to architects, designers and artists, the competition sought innovative proposals for a £23,000 installation intended to improve the streetscape and assist wayfinding for visitors arriving at the station, which recently received a £1 billion overhaul by Grimshaw, Arcadis WSP JV and Costain.

The project, backed by Team London Bridge, aims to transform the ‘busy but unremarkable’ plot on Tooley Street into a space where pedestrians can re-orientate themselves around the area’s many landmarks, including the riverside, City Hall, Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market.

The studio’s winning ‘You Are Here’ concept was inspired by the London A-Z and aims to provide a new meeting point and help the thousands of people using London Bridge every day to find their way around the immediate area.

The scheme, which will be installed next year subject to planning, features a scale map of the area around London Bridge printed onto the pavement and a giant signpost bearing local directions and information.

London Festival of Architecture director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘Getting lost outside London Bridge is a familiar feeling for millions of people – but not for long, thanks to Charles Holland Architects’ charming landmark.

‘The competition has demonstrated how architecture – even at a relatively small scale – can have an enormously positive impact, and I’m looking forward to working with Charles and his team on this very exciting project.’

Charles Holland said: ‘We are delighted to have been selected by Team London Bridge and the London Festival of Architecture for this project.

‘Our proposal responded directly to their brief for improving the public realm around Tooley Street Triangle whilst aiming to bring a sense of playfulness and delight. We are now very excited to be working with the team to develop the proposals to fruition.’

Team London Bridge placeshaping director Jack Skillen said: ‘London Bridge is a world-class destination for business and tourism, and yet this little space can be both confusing and underwhelming for the thousands of people coming here.

‘What we loved about Charles Holland’s concept over the other brilliant entries was the way a beautifully designed object can solve these problem head on, helping people to meet up, look around, and orientate themselves. It enlivens a key gateway to encourage people to explore some of our quieter routes to the river, Tower Bridge and Borough Market.’

Lfa lbg comp low res (5 of 29)

Competition site

Competition site

London Bridge Station is one of the oldest railway stations in the world and handles around 50 million passengers a year. The 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 was one of four to be launched by the LFA this year, which also announced a contest for an architecture-themed Pride float in May, 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 contest included Thomson, Jack Skillen from Team London Bridge, dRMM director Jonas Lencer, and Southwark Council head of highways Matthew Hill.

Finalists

Charles Holland Architects [WINNER]

Shortlisted: Charles Holland Architects

WINNER: Charles Holland Architects

WINNER: Charles Holland Architects

Our initial proposal responds to the brief in two ways. Firstly, it responds to the idea of wayfinding and orientation by proposing a scaled map of the immediate area on the ground plane. Secondly, we propose an object placed on the map that is part beacon and part street furniture. In this particular context the object responds to the triangular nature of the site but we have also conceived it as part of a family of objects that could be used on other sites.

M2R arquitectos

Shortlisted: M2R arquitectos

Shortlisted: M2R arquitectos

Shortlisted: M2R arquitectos

Simply because we believe we can make Tooley Street a beautiful and meaningful place. We have three main ideas for Tooley street. First, to make it Memorable. Second, to make it Attractive. Third, to make it Social.

make:good

Shortlisted: make:good

Shortlisted: make:good

Shortlisted: make:good

Our proposition is to create a secular steel frame folly which people walk under or stop around as a way of directing people, as well as providing an opportunity to grow plants up the structure to improve air quality. The upper structure would be cut sheet or mesh steel depictions of the area’s landmarks that are agreed, prioritised and co-designed with local people and stakeholders using workshops and pop-ups on site.

S’il Te Plait Group

Shortlisted: S’il Te Plait Group

Shortlisted: S’il Te Plait Group

Shortlisted: S’il Te Plait Group

Way More London is a proposal to enhance the understanding of the London Bridge area for lost commuters. The project is made of signage pointing to the main attractive places surrounding the area. Beyond simply showing the way to reach the various places, the intention is to highlight a sense of place.

White Red Architects

Shortlisted: White Red Architects

Shortlisted: White Red Architects

Shortlisted: White Red Architects

The Zoetrope is a Georgian animation device reflecting the ceaseless motion of the modern city and its landmarks. From the street level and the bridge above the pavilion reveals the identity and diversity of London Bridge, day and night, through an intricate tiled floor reflected in sloping mirrored walls creating a sense of intrigue to passers by. During the approach the visitor views an image of the landmark directly ahead reflected from the floor. Within the pavilion more detailed instructions can be found on the walls and floor. Use of pictures and arrows make it easy use without needing to speak English. 

CAN with Eddie Blake

Shortlisted: CAN with Eddie Blake

Shortlisted: CAN with Eddie Blake

Shortlisted: CAN with Eddie Blake

The Tooley Street Triangle site is an opportunity to knit back together some of the disparate elements of the area. The sketch proposal addresses Victorian arches, the 1960s concrete overpass, the hospital and the river, just out of sight. The design keeps the pavement clear for pedestrian flow, while offering rain protection and introducing a way-finding gesture at first storey. Using chain mail, the design allows daylight through while providing a visual clue to the route beyond. A large LED scrolling display is hidden behind the chain mail and revealed when lit up with messages welcoming people to the area, with a large digital clock giving a civic focus to the space. It is a piece of public realm infrastructure which aims to enhance ones ability and desire to walk through or even stop at this site.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Phil Parker

    Great shame these nice little projects aren't given to young architects to allow them the experience of a real project?

    Why are the same old faces on every small competition short-list?? Lets get some fresh ideas (and faces).

    .

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