Our longlisted entry design for ‘Old Street Iconic Gateway’, Islington Council, see the exhibition in London and feedback our entry Part B no.9 here.
The journey through the Promenade of Light ends in lovers meeting. Situated where two constituencies, Islington and Hackney, cross, the lover’s knot is a crowned folly for shared common activities, encircled by an arched colonnade which provides a protective route for pedestrians and cyclists, bounded by the busy traffic of the Old Street peninsula.
The lover’s knot is an octagonal rotunda, inspired by Queen Mary’s Tiara ‘Lover’s knot’ from 1908 and a crown formed by using a repeated arched motif. The arches refer to the surrounding context in London, such as the Barbican and St John’s Gate, the entrance to Clerkenwell. Repeated and mirrored, the arch system is flipped at first floor level in the rotunda. A central light and illuminated arches keep the space fully visible for enjoyment at night. The proposal is a multi-use space allowing for a variety of activities both day and night; performance, chatting, meeting, lectures, presentations, eating, chess tournaments, art exhibitions, and pop-up markets. Or when un-programmed, provides a transient and light, quiet screening from the intensity of road movements.
To complement this form, a permeable colonnade system is to be installed on the peninsular’s most eastern edge between the busy road, creating a defined space for the lover’s knot. This colonnade is permeable with different openings and subtractions, to accommodate existing pedestrian routes.
The arches are made up of a filigree thin metal mesh that encourages plant growth. The key driving force behind the scheme is the climbing plants; situated on the rotunda and colonnade, the growing plants form a tangible barrier between the car-scape and the public space, helping to alleviate sound and air pollution. The proposal creates a green space in the centre of the busy intersection.
As well as retaining the advertising boards located on the existing arch spanning across the peninsula, the view is enhanced by framing from within crown. Looking from the road, the proposal does not block views and retains full visibility from a car. In addition to this, the colonnade itself creates new opportunities for advertising revenue in the form of interchangeable arch shaped boards, filling arches that would otherwise open onto busy traffic, creating a safe barrier from the busy road intersection.
This space forms a public square, surrounded by greenery in this otherwise hostile car-based environment. Farmer’s markets, performances and public art can all be integrated into the open framework of the scheme, with seating built into the design to provide parameters for space and movement. In addition to the crown and the colonnade, a number of arches are repurposed as swings, bringing a playful edge to the public space, creating a new demographic of visitors that would be excited to spend time within the scheme. The scheme creates an inclusive space for all ages, inhabitants, local businesses, visitors, commuters and inhabitants.
Steel sections are proposed as a durable material for the main construction, with the arches formed from pre-fabricated metal mesh that is widely used in the construction industry. By repurposing these otherwise functional affordable materials with bright colours, lights and interesting shapes, it contemporises the traditional references and reflects the buzz of the digital businesses and start-ups in the area. Lover’s knot at light’s edge will bring the space alive with a new destination, not only the Silicon Roundabout, but a destination in East London.
- Islington Council