River Fleet Square would provide a contemporary urban focus to unlock regeneration potential and highlight the quality of the existing surrounding buildings and views to St Paul’s Cathedral. This proposal utilises an existing open space at the junction of Farringdon Road and Clerkenwell Road (London, EC1) by covering over the current deep railway cutting and introducing a high quality public square.
The shape of the space is formed by it’s history – a valley where the River Fleet once flowed towards the Thames. The river became an open sewer and was culverted in the 1860s and the Underground was then built through the deep cutting. The current public realm is of very poor quality and does nothing to recognise the huge potential of the site as a world class public square set within the context of the impressive architecture that already faces the space.
The design would draw reference from the lost River Fleet in the form of shallow water features, slowly flowing southwards. The layout is proposed to be reasonably formal, with lines of pleached trees and low level geometric planting providing shade and texture in the urban setting.
River Fleet Square would be a dramatic green landmark – a classic but contemporary people space bringing out the best of the local culture and heritage. The Square would also accommodate paved areas for pavement cafes, particularly on the eastern side which benefits from day time and evening sun. The remainder of the paved space would provide for market stalls or small scale events. There is potential to involve the local Italian population in this – perhaps leading to it becoming a ‘Little Italy’. A key hub within the Square would be Clerkenwell Circus – a junction that would form a new gateway heading east along quiet back-streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
Project Team | Greysmith Associates, Dominic Cole and Regeneration X
Image Credit | Greysmith Associates, Dominic Cole and Regeneration X