A green sanctuary, a secret garden

From news.cityoflondon.gov.uk on 16.7.20:

“Finsbury Circus Gardens, the Square Mile’s largest open space and London’s first public park, is reopening in August after being closed to the public for 10 years due to Crossrail works.

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages the site, has today announced the imminent departure of Crossrail from the historic park in the heart of the Square Mile.

A temporary lawn will be put in place for visitors, workers and residents to enjoy over the summer while the City Corporation’s design team works on redesigning the space to restore the gardens to former glories.

Measuring just under two acres, Finsbury Circus Gardens is the oldest and one of the most prestigious public parks in the City, receiving over two million visits year. 

In March 2010, Crossrail took possession of a substantial part of the garden for a works site to construct its high-speed rail link. The company used the area to access a section of tunnel between Farringdon and Liverpool Street below the park.

Around two thirds of the garden were occupied for the works, requiring the removal of the bowling green and the historic Grade II listed drinking fountain, which has been moved into temporary storage.

In June, the City Corporation launched an architecture design competition to transform the Grade II listed gardens, offering a unique opportunity to be part of the project to reinstate the landscaping and pavilion on the site.

This two-stage competition asked applicants to come up with the most creative and sustainable design ideas to return the park to a multifunctional public space with a pavilion, restore its historic features and transform it into a green sanctuary.

The City Corporation will work with the successful architect to deliver the scheme over the coming year. Shortlisted applicants will be announced soon…”

From building.co.uk on 13.10.20:

“A team featuring Architecture 00 and Studio Weave has won the competition to design Finsbury Circus gardens’ long-awaited makeover following work to build the new Crossrail line.

The City of London Corporation had shortlisted five teams in August for the job which will also include reinstating a pavilion.

The winning team also includes landscape practice ReardonSmith Landscape.

The one-storey garden pavilion, which will hold up to 100 people in its café and host events, will be sited in a secret garden with a grade II-listed drinking fountain dating back to 1902 will be resited nearby.

Architects Christophe Egret of Studio Egret West and Femi Oresanya of HOK helped judge the shortlisted schemes.

The other finalist were Alvisi Kirimoto + Partners with Alexandra Steed Urban, Feilden Fowles Architects with Tom Stuart-Smith, Hall McKnight with GHB Landscape Architects and Paul Archer Design with Studio Ben Allen and Fox Fernley Landscape Office

The competition was aimed at smaller firms with architects wanting to bid required to have a turnover of between £550,000 and £1.5m.

The authority had hoped to begin giving the prestigious 17th century gardens a facelift two years ago but delays to the nearby Crossrail scheme being built by Laing O’Rourke at Liverpool Street forced it to put back its plans.

The gardens have been the location for a 42m deep shaft used by workers to access Crossrail tunnels since 2012.

The work required removing a bowling green and the drinking fountain.

Each of the five shortlisted firms has been given a £1,000 honorarium.”

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