This is a narrow dark modern-looking alley that provides the only gap in a wall that gives access to the warren of streets behind a long row of unremitting office blocks.

Just outside Barbican, it’s an alley that emerged from the build-up of the area following the dissolution of the monasteries and the sale of land to developers. Aldersgate Street itself is one of London’s older roads leading out from the city to the countryside, and when the area turned from fields to houses, it was largely lined with large houses, and it’s possible that the alley arrived around the same time to provide access to the back gardens.
The grand houses slowly turned into a cluster of smaller houses and factories as the richer previous owners moved West and sold off their large estates to be chopped up into smaller plots.

By the 19th century, the street was notable for the 4-story buildings that lined it, and throughout all this, the small alley, Braidwood Passage had survived various rebuilds around it. The whole area was flattened during WW2 though.

The building that now sits above the alley, 150 Aldersgate Street is candidly, a fairly bland late 1980s office block.

The alley has a low ceiling for such a long covered corridor, which makes it rather oppressive, so part of new plans to refurbish the building include lifting the ceiling up to the sort of heights more commonly found in other long covered walkways in the City.

The brown tiles are to go, replaced by a new art wall metal mesh design that will also hide the back-of-house entrances and spaces. The mesh design takes its inspiration from the previous occupant of the site, a large Victorian textile factory.

Proposed design – from the planning application

A useful and busy alley that is as forgettable as it is useful could soon be at least slightly more interesting to walk through.


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