Marble Arch island is a contested site. Encircled by four lanes of traffic and located at the meeting point of Oxford Street and Hyde Park, the Island is home to the Grade-1 listed Marble Arch, underground station, formal gardens and a setting-down place for buses.
We were appointed by Almacantar after having won an invited design competition to provide a new event space on the island. The developed proposal will provide a café, event and exhibition space at ground floor level. Below ground-level there will be a double-height theatre space that fills in the void where the now-redundant underpass between Edgware Road and Hyde Park is located.
Our proposal builds on the site’s rich, historic landscape character and seeks to emulate the sense of the thick informal band of parkland that once defined this boundary of Hyde Park. The design retains a ‘grazing plane’ as a zone between the tree-level roof-top planting and the landscaped grounds that will maintain views through and around the island and the park.
The proposal features tiered planted canopies that form the roof to the pavilion, held like branches of a tree. The use of mirror allows sunlight to ricochet through the building similar to the way that tree canopies provide areas of light and shade, and openness and enclosure. The columns that support the canopies will be like trunks of trees grouped together to form thickets of varied levels of density.
A new boardwalk weaves across the site and will create enhanced pedestrian connections across the island forming a gateway to the park. This will increase permeability at ground level across the island and provide a more direct route from Edgware Road and Oxford Street to Hyde Park. The exhibition space will cantilever over the existing lake and provide a visual connection to the western end of Oxford Street.
New trees planted in mirror-clad, steel boxes will be installed at different heights around the pavilions to give the sense that passers-by are entering an immersive parkland experience. The trees, supported on white steel columns, will appear to float above the surrounding landscape.
Materially, the building is conceived as a simple glazed pavilion. The tree-like internal columns support a series of planted roof troughs with mirror-clad fascias to help soften the building’s impact. An inventive use of materials allows for a design that feels rooted in its rich, historic, urban context.
- Client: Almacantar
- Location: Marble Arch, London
- Date: 2016-2017
- Design Team: Nick Hayhurst, Jon Nicholls, Holly Crosbie, Tony Berongoy
- Landscape Design: Howard Miller Design
- Structural Engineer: Waterman Structures
- Services Engineer: Long and Partners
- Quantity Surveyor: Core Five
- Townscape and Heritage: Peter Stewart Consultancy
- Access and Servicing: Steer Davies Gleave
- Building Control: Bureau Veritas Building Control UK
- Fire Engineer: Jeremy Gardner Associates
- Arboriculture: Tree: Fabrik
- Visualisations: Miller Hare (Stage 4) Studio Archetype: Architectural Imaging + Animation (Stage 0)
- Historic Images: City of London Corporation