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Emerging practice wins St Paul’s Plinth contest

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Nick Tyrer and Umut Baykan have won the London Festival of Architecture’s contest to design a £12,500 installation close to St Paul’s Cathedral

The duo’s winning Rose proposal was inspired by the stained-glass rose window of the original St Paul’s Cathedral, which was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. Tyrer and Baykan – who are both in their early thirties – met at Pattern Design Architects where Tyrer is an associate director. 

The competition invited proposals for a futuristic and contextual installation which built on an existing frame structure – known as the St Paul’s Gateway – completed by ScottWhitbyStudio and Arup as part of 2018’s festival.

The project, supported by Cheapside Business Alliance, aims to harness the canopy outside St Paul’s tube station ‘as a basis for new work that can both resonate with the site’s rich heritage and offer a glimpse into the potential zero-carbon future of the Square Mile.’ The winning team will now work with the client and Arup to see their scheme installed in time for the festival in June.

Tyrer said: ‘We are thrilled to be able to share our vision for St Paul’s, a playful nod to the site’s forgotten history. Rose is inspired by the much-celebrated stained-glass window of Old St Paul’s Cathedral, which was lost to the Great Fire of London. We hope Rose will offer a little joy and colour to the community of Cheapside.’

LFA director Tamsie Thomson said: ‘At the London Festival of Architecture, we thrive on the opportunity to offer the public an exciting new perspective on our built environment, championing our industry’s exceptional creative talent to make a positive difference to our public realm.

‘I’m looking forward to seeing Rose do just that, as it celebrates and showcases the power of design to re-engage and immerse residents, workers and tourists in London’s incredible history. We’re thrilled to be working alongside Nick, Umut and Cheapside Business Alliance to bring this joyful new artwork  to life this June – and with it, a glimpse of Old St Paul’s Cathedral – and are excited to see Rose transform such a prominent City location with an unforgettable visitor experience.’

City of London Corporation planning and transportation committee chair Alastair Moss said: ‘The City Corporation planning teams are always considering how to combine the old with the new, and the winning design for this year’s St Paul’s Plinth competition embodies that challenge.

‘The contemporary installation, Rose, modernises and renews an existing frame structure to pay tribute to the City’s rich heritage as it draws upon the lost rose window of Old St Paul’s Cathedral. We look forward to this immersive design enhancing this busy part of the City during the 2020 Festival of Architecture.’

The St Paul’s Gateway installation features 400 highly reflective anodised aluminium poles suspended vertically from a simple lightweight structural canopy.

The suspended part of the installation was removed in May 2019, leaving the trapezoidal gateway structure standing and ready for ‘a second life’ as a plinth. The inaugural competition was won by KHBT with Ottmar Hörl whose Lunchbreak proposal featured a collection of 40 golden angels watching over commuters in the area.

Judges for this year’s installation included Thomson of the LFA; ScottWhitbyStudio director Alex Scott-Whitby; Ruth Duston, executive director of the Cheapside Business Alliance; and Arup senior structural engineer Marc Easton.

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