In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Aldgate Public Realm

The removal of the gyratory system at Aldgate and rationalisation of the highways will create two significant areas of new public realm. The City of London’s international status but medieval grain has often meant that buildings such as Sir John Cass school and St Botolph’s church were built with grand architectural ambitions, but in sites that restrict the presentation of those ambitions. Opening up a space in the City is therefore an act of uncovering thwarted ambitions and simply giving them room to breathe.

Our conceptual approach to the design of this site is to allow its key characters (namely the school, the church and the opportunity offered by closing the subways) to project their ambitions onto the space. Rather than forcing a contrived geometry onto these structures or introducing a new character that does not respond to the context of the site, we propose to take our lead from the existing characters with the aim of creating an extraordinary but inherently relevant design that is unique to this context and heritage.

Sir John Cass’ Charity School, completed in 1908, was designed by architect Arthur William Cooksey. Cooksey was inspired by the architecture of Sir Christopher Wren and the similarities between Cooksey’s school and Wren’s façade of Hampton Court Palace (completed 1702) are unmistakable.

However, while Wren’s palace façade is set off with a sumptuous formal garden, Cooksey’s school has always been buried in narrow streets or hidden behind planters. It is only now, with the opening up of this space that the impressive, symmetrical school building can present itself fully, set within its own Privvy Garden.

St Botolph’s church has existed on the site since 1115. Its older iterations were set into a churchyard but this space has been encroached upon since by busy road and looming office blocks.

With St Botolph being named after the patron saint of travellers and agriculture, it seems fitting that it be nestled within green, fertile grounds such as St Botolph at Newbold-on-Avon in Warwickshire.