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Open call for teams to rethink area around Royal Academy


The Royal Academy of Arts (RA), in partnership with the AJ, has put out an open call for architect-led teams to submit speculative designs for rethinking a swathe of Mayfair

The open call, described by the RA as a ‘platform for new thinking’, is seeking teams that can offer ‘bold new ideas for reimagining the area of Mayfair directly to the north of the RA’s Burlington Gardens building’.

The judges, who include the AJ’s Rory Olcayto and the RA’s architecture programme manager Owen Hopkins, are looking for concepts that will turn the area – which bounded by Old Bond Street, Clifford Street, Savile Row and Burlington Gardens – into ‘London’s next cultural quarter’.

Hopkins said he wanted proposals that would ‘help ensure this area retains its distinctive cultural identity, and develops the cross-pollination between its cultural and commercial sides.

‘These ideas may be physical interventions to enhance the public realm – managing pedestrian and traffic flow for instance, or perhaps public art commissions,’ he said, ‘but they might also comprise the creation of markets or festivals; cultural activities that enhance the character of the area without necessarily altering it physically.

‘This is part of why we are asking for multidisciplinary teams to enter,’ he added.

The entries, which are to be submitted by 30 June, will be whittled down to four teams.

On the 19 September, the teams will present their ideas at a public event in front of a panel of critics before being displayed in a pop-up exhibition at the RA as part of Open House London (20-21 September).

The open call is taking place against the backdrop of David Chipperfield’s £36 million renovation of the RA’s Burlington Gardens building, behind its Burlington House on Piccadilly.

The Chipperfield scheme, which has been awarded a £12.7 million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will include new galleries, a learning studio and the reinstatement of a lecture theatre, as well as a bridge to ‘link’ the two sites together.

‘The Chipperfield scheme will have a positive impact on the area,’ said Hopkins, ‘we want the open call ideas to think how it can be further enhanced.’

The zone covered in the brief was first laid out by Lord Burlington in the 1720s. The high-end part of London has benefitted from the rejuvenation of Regent Street, and is set for another boost when the New Bond Street Crossrail station opens. The brief asks for teams to come up with a solution that can act as a ‘counterpoint to the area’s strong commercial facets and help create a richer social mix’.

Submissions and questions should be sent to architecture@royalacademy.org.uk


Readers' comments (2)

  • chris Dyson

    This is a great project / opportuity to create a strong counterpoint to the area’s exisitng strong artistic and commercial activities and create a richer social mix by providing a sense of place and identity, a place to idle stand and stare.
    Nearly 300 years of history is a fascinating tapestry to work with!

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  • A 500 GBP stipend! Architecture is cheap nowadays!
    I call for a boycott. Let us end with architect explotation.
    And AJ is sponsoring it!

    Eugenio Aguinaga

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