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City unveils Culture Mile as part of major plans to transform Barbican street


The City of London Corporation has unveiled plans to transform Beech Street, next to the Barbican, as part of its major Culture Mile programme

Revealed at a launch event yesterday [20 July], the corporation outlined its proposals for the Culture Mile, a planned cultural hub in the north-west corner of the City of London.

The route 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, for which a star-studded shortlist was recently announced.

Sharon Ament, director of the Museum of London, said the transformation of Beech Street would involve creating ‘active shop fronts, removing the air-pollution vehicles, better for pedestrians, better for cyclists, and connecting the cultural institutions’.

She added: ‘Through a process of planning and consultation, eventually a plan will emerge for Beech Street.’ 

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation told the AJ it was currently in the ‘early stages’ of looking at the ‘total transformation’ of Beech Street.

They added that Hawkins\Brown has carried out a feasibility study on the street and that ‘over the next 12-18 months [we] expect to move forward with appointing a professional team, apply for planning consent and undertake public consultation’.

The spokesperson refused to confirm whether an architect would be sought as part of this professional team, but added that more details would emerge over the ‘coming year’.

Talking about the Culture Mile, Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, said the body wanted to transform the Square Mile so that it was ‘admired as much for being a world-class cultural destination as for its position as a leading global financial centre’.

McGuinness also said that the Culture Mile venture would show that London is an international city, in the face of the EU referendum vote. 

She added: ‘There is no doubt that Culture Mile will transform the area and in the face of Brexit send a signal to the world that London is – and will always be – a welcoming, open, and resolutely internationalist city.’ 

McGuinness added that the corporation would like to pedestrianise Beech Street, but that may not be possible. 

Meanwhile, Barbican managing director Nick Kenyon said the Brexit vote had given the corporation an ‘added sense of urgency’ to push ahead with the new cultural exchange. 

The big-name shortlist for the planned Centre for Music was unveiled earlier this month, including Amanda Levete, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano. 

In January, the City of London Corporation confirmed it would contribute £110 million to the new Museum of London, with London mayor Sadiq Khan pledging a further £70 million – the largest cultural investment made by any London mayor to date – meaning they have together put up £180 million of the £250 million fundraising target.

A planning application for the museum to be built on the 25,000m² West Smithfield site is expected to be submitted in 2018. The museum is set to open in its new home in 2022.

The Culture Mile is a long-term project, with a completion date over the next 10 to 15 years. 

WINNER: Stanton Williams with Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons and Plan A [institute sketch]

WINNER: Stanton Williams with Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons and Plan A [institute sketch]

WINNER: Stanton Williams with Asif Khan, Julian Harrap, J&L Gibbons and Plan A [institute sketch]


Readers' comments (2)

  • Chris Rogers

    Odd not to mention that Beech St.is in fact almost entirely covered by buildings, ie it's a ground floor tunnel

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  • Having walked through the Beech Street tunnel I can confirm that it's a street in name only - and for a pedestrian neither welcoming nor open - so it would be very interesting to know just how Hawkins Brown suggest that it might be transformed, as removing the lid could do immense damage to the whole character of the Barbican development.

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