RIVER OF WELLS
Client: City of London Corporation
Scope: Public realm/Urban design
Location: Blackfriars, London
A Joyful New Public Space to Revitalise the Thames Walk
We were commissioned by the City of London Corporation to develop an intervention that could address the short, medium and long term needs of this key pedestrian connection point along the river Thames.
We developed an interactive urban intervention which positively connects people to the hidden natural and historic aspects of the site. It provides a strong sense of identity to a forgotten space and forms part of the wider Riverside Walk Enhancement Scheme.
DELIGHT, INTERACTION AND ENGAGEMENT
This unexpected, playful installation is inspired by the colourful folklore of the hidden River Fleet, which joins the Thames at the site and was known as the “River of Wells”. The existing landscaping appears to transform into “well-like” structures, filled with a glistening surface. These encased panels of mirror-polished steel reflect light from high-level spotlights onto the underside of the listed bridge structure – the brightness changing with the ebb and flow of the tide.
A path of “stepping stones” invites interaction and play, whilst poetry describing the myth of the Fleet Ditch is inscribed into the Corten casings of the installation. The vibrant colour palette is inspired by Monet’s depictions of the Thames in changing weather conditions.
INNOVATION IN LIGHTING & FABRICATION
The innovative vision for the proposal was developed through close collaboration with lighting designers and a specialist artwork fabricator. The detailed resolution of the “well” modules was led by 1 to 1 prototyping and on -site testing of the lighting effects and reflections.
The pre-fabricated, “kit of parts” approach taken reduces both costs and installation time on site to minimise disruption to pedestrian movement.
“The team developed really innovative, creative and functional design solutions to a very challenging site, always coming up with imaginative and practical responses throughout the design process.”
Project Manager, City of London.