“Urban Squares and Clerkenwell Square”: Brian Leung, Landscape + Urbanism MA Dissertation. 2010-11
This project initially focused on researching the history and development of squares and public space in the urban environment. It assessed the form and function of such spaces, explored the historical and contemporary theory of the development of urban squares, and drew comparisons between the different typologies. Drawing upon the research and analysis, the final output focused on the design for a public space, utilizing aspects of the theoretical study.
The dissertation included the desktop study of 50+ squares around the world – ranging from large ceremonial squares, to smaller, more intimate spaces. The information was then collated based on the different typologies and sizes, to gain a better understanding of how squares and open space differ around the world.
After analysing squares around the world, the project then goes on to look at how London could benefit from a square or public open space. Through study of some of the squares and spaces within London, and the current planning proposals for them, the Clerkenwell / Farringdon site was chosen for further analysis. Why Clerkenwell / Farringdon?
Farringdon Station is currently undergoing reconstruction, as part of Crossrail and Thameslink upgrades, and upon completion will become one of the busiest stations in London, with some of the best public transport connections, becoming a key transit hub. The area has also been highlighted in the Mayor’s London Plan as an Area for Intensification, which makes use of the improved transport connections to seek potential increases in density and mixed use developments. This increase in density, combined with the large increase in pedestrian fl ow, especially during peak hours, creates a need for a well designed open space, for passengers to traverse, and also as a hub for social activity and interactions. There have been detailed proposals for the site in terms of the ticket halls and built form, but only a brief suggestion of what could happen in the public realm.
Following site research and precedent studies including More London, Kings Cross Public Realm, Duke of York Square and Dalston Square a series of design criteria where developed.
Elements of an Urban Square:
- Flexible Space – The design should allow for multifunctional use
- Outdoor Room – The space can be framed by its surrounding elements, such as 50 Farringdon Road, or new ones can be introduced, such as railings, trees, etc to frame the space
- Focal Points – Make use of the St Paul’s Cathedral unrestricted views from the site
- Permeability – The site should be easy to traverse and accessible, to allow visitors to move freely throughout the site.
- Extending the site boundary – will help marry the square into the surrounding space
- Entrances – Strategically place entrances to the square to allow easy access and encourage people to visit.