Plans to revamp the tired Old Street roundabout have taken a small step forward, with a call for a design proposal to be set in to Islington council. The roundabout was developed in 1968 and has since become a landmark within Shoreditch, albeit one that is undeniably showing its age.
Meanwhile, TfL announced that work to transform the whole area will begin late next year.
Islington Council is looking for design concepts for the public space that includes public art based around the theme of “Tech City” – the technological, economic and cultural powerhouse around Old Street.
However, if you issue a tender to design a long-lasting work of public design, based on a potentially transitory industrial cluster you run the risk of having a tech-oriented design that is — in say 20 years time — surrounded by insurance firms.
Much more sensible to avoid what are potentially temporary fads, and design for the long term.
Design ideas must be deliverable within a budget of around £1 million. Proposals can exceed this budget, if design teams can show they have identified viable external funding to supplement the budget.
A funding programme for construction is currently being put together, and is expected to include developer contributions. Contributions will also be sought from the private sector.
The deadline to submit an entry to the Open Call for Design Ideas is 29 January 2018. A public exhibition will be held in February 2018, and the best design ideas will be shortlisted in March.
That aside, TfL is itself revamping the road aspect of the roundabout, and in fact, killing off the roundabout entirely, turning it into a concrete peninsula. The north-western “arm” of the roundabout will be permanently closed, creating a new pedestrianised public space while new surface-level pedestrian crossings will be introduced as an alternative to the subway routes.
The existing subway entrances would be rebuilt to remove the long ramps, and leave just steps, with a much larger new tube station entrance built in the middle of the roundabout, with step-free access there.
Those subways link not just to the tube station sitting in the middle of the roundabout, but also to the shopping arcade. Not well known, but that arcade has a name — St. Agnes Well — after an ancient well and church that sat just down the road, where the former Foundry bar used to be.
Once the final design is completed by summer 2018 construction will follow later that year – with the majority of the construction work taking place throughout 2019.