122 Leadenhall

Invited Competition, 2009
Location: 122 Leadenhall Street, City of London
Client: British Land

A proposal for the temporary enhancement of the stalled construction site of ‘The Cheesegrater’ tower at 122 Leadenhall Street for developer British Land and organised by the New London Architecture.

The proposal resists the idea that we need more design ‘icons’ and questions the overemphasis on the vertical axis of the City of London. The main concern is what the City has neglected and what it needs the most: a better ground and public space.

There are two main interventions: a landscape of planted pots at basement level and an arrangement of public boardwalks at street level. The ambition is that new adaptable and expandable pedestrian connections along with enhanced planted sites will inject social bio-diverse environments into the City. The result is an inexpensive demountable system that can be applied to other unused or stalled building site.

Dense planting would be achieved with a 1m grid of 2500 plants placed on basement level of the site. Spacing and density of pots would be adapted to allow for informal performances, events of the City of London Festival, or lunchtime concerts. A seasonal transformation would be made by the field of plants, experienced from the surrounding streets and offices above as a 3D pixilated blanket. The perennial plants would bloom into a bushy meadow in summer.

A small pedestrian square is created at street level onto Leadenhall Street, directly opposite Lloyds of London, tying into the lower square of St Mary Axe. A new elevated pedestrian route crosses the site and could extent into the stalled building site of Bishopsgate Tower (‘The Pinnacle’). During the financial crisis, the scheme would have provided an opportunity to experience the City of London in an entirely different way.