Terry Farrell has been appointed to mastermind the transformation of the ‘dysfunctional’ St Giles Circus – one of central London’s most-visited areas.
Farrell was commissioned by Design for London (DfL) to overhaul the area – described by London Mayor Ken Livingstone as ‘squalid’ – which extends from Richard Seifert’s iconic Centre Point building on New Oxford Street to Covent Garden in the south and Berners Street in the west.
Farrell told the AJ that London’s ‘most critical urban planning problems were around St Giles Circus’, and announced that he would prepare ‘an holistic integrated strategy for the area’.
DfL director Peter Bishop said he was ‘delighted to have Terry on board’ and added that the London-based architect was expected to complete ‘a substantial amount of his work by Christmas’.
That work will include a series of rapidly convened meetings with landowners, including Land Securities, Targetfollow, Consolidated Developments, Legal & General and Axa – all of which have key sites in the area at various stages of development.
Farrell will also meet design teams already employed by the landowners – among them Renzo Piano, who has drawn up Legal & General’s St Giles Court ‘Groundscraper’ scheme, currently on site.
According to Bishop the schemes will be ‘knitted into’ Farrell’s design study, which he said would also integrate London Underground’s new Tottenham Court Road station and the swathe of work required for the Crossrail railway scheme, approved by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 5 October.
But Bishop urged people to be realistic in their expectations, describing St Giles as ‘dysfunctional’ and a ‘very hard, tough London place’.
He said: ‘Nobody envisages a grand piazza where you sip cappuccinos and take pictures of pigeons while orchestras play in the background. It can still be beautiful though.’
‘The most likely outcome,’ Bishop added, ‘would be a bit like Piccadilly Circus. But I think that St Giles could do it a lot better. You would arrive by Crossrail, Tube or bus, orientate yourself and go to Bloomsbury, Covent Garden or Soho’.
Farrell’s study is due to be completed in the new year.