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Smithfield Public Realm\

Transforming the civic and cultural heart of London

The City of London is working to transform Smithfield into a pedestrian-friendly destination, and open the area up for people to explore its rich heritage. Supporting the ambitious aspirations of the Culture Mile and City Transport Strategy, the project also aligns with the relocation of the Museum of London and potential move of Smithfield meat market to a new consolidated site in outer London (as part of the Markets Co-Location Programme).

Hawkins\Brown is leading the design team for the public realm, providing a vital piece of connective tissue that unifies new cultural venues with historic institutions - and creates a distinct place for civic and cultural activity.

Taking a ‘multiple perspectives, multiple hands’ design approach that centres on co-authorship and co-curation, we are commissioning an artist in residence to work within our team and are including different communities in the design process.

“Our vision is to unify Smithfield’s multiple histories and contemporary cultures into a place for all Londoners.”

The challenge

With London’s oldest hospital St Bart’s adjacent to the project, and as a site where animal trading has taken place for over 1,000 years, this is one of the most historic parts of London. Holding a history of spectacle and brutality, and freedom and healing, the site provides us with multiple complex elements to engage with, navigate, and tie together.

The key aims of the project are to:

  • Celebrate the history of the area
  • Increase planting, greening and sustainable measures
  • Incorporate a ‘Healthy Streets’ approach to transport and movement which prioritises people over vehicles
  • Provide facilities for cultural activity
  • Support a diverse range of local communities and businesses

The big idea

Through careful excavation, repair and design, this will be a new chapter in Smithfield’s continuing legacy, providing a characterful public realm full of distinct yet complementary functions, and demonstrating Smithfield’s often conflicting, brutal and hidden history.

Project Summary

Project Team

  • Landscape architecture: OKRA
  • Lighting design: Studio Dekka
  • Transport & movement: Momentum
  • Cultural placemaking: Contemporary Art Society
  • Artist in Residence: Larry Achiampong

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