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Exclusive: Culture Mile wayfinding contest winner revealed

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Karsten Huneck & Bernd Truempler (KHBT) has won the City of London Corporation’s competition to find a designer for a temporary £40-60,000 wayfinding installation in the City’s Culture Mile

The studio was chosen from a shortlist of emerging practices, including Neiheiser Argyros, Raw Architecture Workshop, Squint/Opera and Whybrow Pedrola. More than 20 submissions were received.

The competition sought conceptual proposals for an innovative public-realm intervention intended to boost walkability within the Culture Mile’s north-south route connecting the Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London and the Barbican Centre.

KHBT’s winning scheme, dubbed Around the Corner, features a series of signs inspired by a quotation from Virginia Woolf’s novel Jacob’s Room: ‘The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?’

The call for concepts – open to architects, designers and artists – sought ideas to ‘animate and transform’ the route by day and night. KHBT’s winning proposal will be installed from autumn 2019 to spring 2020.

Karsten Huneck of KHBT said: ‘We are delighted and honoured to be able to add to the City’s rich cultural offerings by creating a spatial piece that will bring these closer to the visitor.

‘Around the Corner highlights specific locations on the way between Tate Modern and the Barbican Centre in order to create a new identity for the route and mark the more hidden points of interest. The piece adds a parallel narrative by using the means of literature in a metaphorical and literal way at the same time.’

Simon Duckworth, deputy chair of the City Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee, said: ‘The City of London Corporation is committed to the physical transformation of Culture Mile and this includes the important north-south axis between the Barbican and the Millennium Bridge.

‘There was a strong field of entries and KHBT’s winning proposal will bring the area to life with its imaginative approach inspired by the literature of the early 20th century. It will help us realise our ambition to create an unrivalled visitor experience and a welcoming environment for everyone to enjoy this cultural and learning destination.’

The Culture Mile initiative, launched in 2017, will transform the north-west corner of the City of London between Moorgate and Farringdon into a cultural hub over the next 10 to 15 years. An ideas contest for a series of Culture Mile ‘Summer Speculations’ was held two years ago.

The district 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 by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Proposals in the latest competition were expected to boost daytime and night-time ambience and could include lighting and other decorative features along with modular elements. Concepts were expected to be accessible, sustainable and robust.

Judges included City Public Realm senior manager Sarah Jane Enson; Melodie Leung, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects; and Culture Mile manager Tim Jones.

The finalists

WINNER: ‘Around the Corner’ by KHBT

WINNER: ‘Around the Corner’ by KHBT

WINNER: ‘Around the Corner’ by KHBT

‘Starting at the south of the route at the Millennium Bridge, each word of the last sentence will be located at points along the walk where it acts as a wayfinding tool, as well as a sculptural attractor where people can be informed about Culture Mile and the place where it is located. The distance between each of these ‘signs’ allows the pedestrian to be guided between the last and the next word along the path.

‘The proposal is inspired by the history of London as a whole and 20th-century literature specifically: a time when the City of London was starting to thrive, and many writers focused on the subject of an enigmatic London. Virginia Woolf was part of a group of modernist writers that brought interesting changes of unusual narration to literature. Authors began to tell stories in a way that reflected the fragmented and disconnected world.

‘The proposal seeks to create a new emotional connection that allows the visitor to explore an otherwise overlooked thoroughfare and its cultural destinations. The font is inspired by the very first edition of the book in 1922, directly linking the installation back to the historical periods that inform each corner of the City.’

SHORTLISTED: Common Ground, by Neiheiser Argyros

SHORTLISTED: Common Ground, by Neiheiser Argyros

SHORTLISTED: Common Ground, by Neiheiser Argyros

‘Common Ground is a proposal for creating a unified civic space connecting the Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Culture Mile, using only illuminating road studs, a material indigenous to the site. Similar to the way a snowfall unifies unlike things, a field of 3,000 solar powered road studs, spaced 2m apart in a continuous grid visually connects the disparate sidewalks, plazas, crosswalks, and traffic islands, creating a new legible space of public inhabitation.’

SHORTLISTED: A Conspiracy of Colour, by RAW Architecture Workshop

SHORTLISTED: A Conspiracy of Colour, by RAW Architecture Workshop

SHORTLISTED: A Conspiracy of Colour, by RAW Architecture Workshop

‘For centuries, Ravens have inhabited the Square Mile. A group of Ravens is called a ‘conspiracy’. A conspiracy of colour will guide people to, and through, Culture Mile. RAW proposed a series of wayfinding totems would be strategically located around the city to guide visitors from the Millennium Bridge, and St Pauls to the Culture Mile.

‘Colourful Ravens would be visible from distance. Coloured discs indicate the distance to each cultural centre which has its own colour. A ‘Billboard’ would be located on St Peter’s Hill to capture attention as pedestrians step off of the Millennium Bridge, and lets people know that an entire cultural quarter exists just beyond St Paul’s Cathedral. Using colours, graphics, numbers and words, the billboard tells you to follow the ravens to discover the Culture Mile.’

SHORTLISTED: Sound Map-The Pillars by Squint/Opera

SHORTLISTED: Sound Map-The Pillars by Squint/Opera

SHORTLISTED: Sound Map-The Pillars by Squint/Opera

‘Through our interest in Culture Mile’s connection to music, we began to think of the diverse and constant range of sounds one might hear on their journey from one end to another, whether it be ambient everyday sounds from footsteps on the Millennium Bridge to trains on the Barbican underground; or unique music performances such as the London Symphony Orchestra.

‘[It is] a ”sound portal” installation where, through a series of sounds, visitors feel they are being transported to a range of different locations in Culture Mile. The frequency line derived from our soundbite map would inspire the form of our installation, while the content would be formed by a selection of these sounds. Some of these might be more specific focusing on sounds from particular venues; others more generic adding to the overall composition of sound.’

SHORTLISTED: Beacons, by WhybrowPedrola

SHORTLISTED: Beacons, by WhybrowPedrola

SHORTLISTED: Beacons, by WhybrowPedrola

‘Our aim is to harness the creativity and placemaking approach that underpins Culture Mile’s vision. We developed a series of distinctive and recognisable placemaking beacons that support wayfinding, enrich the users experience, foster human interaction and provide a platform for social media engagement. Inspired by Barbican, Museum of London and City of London architecture, we propose a series of wayfinding beacons which provide a continuous thread along the route.’

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