Old Street Oasis Islington, London
This project is for an open international competition in which ABA were awarded second place. The proposal is an urban regeneration strategy for Old Street, a busy 1km long traffic artery in central London.
ABA’s proposal is about using all the existing assets of Old Street – trees, space and light – to create an expansive and serene boulevard under a leaf ceiling crossed by a soft-edge planted road. The classic Old Street problems of car domination, wind, noise, clutter, disorientation, and pollution are addressed with a limited number of simple devices to unify both sides of Old Street and create a colourful aromatic urban oasis for the local community and for London. Bollards, upstands, posts, raised areas, signs, lamps from the street, are all removed, only leaving the single line of mature lime trees and road lighting.
The site is paved with a uniform floor. Trees are not only used for their environmental benefits, but also become an anchor and means of orientation through groupings of different species. Trees are uplit to create a leaf ceiling. Billboards for art are created above the four empty corners of the crossroads. Artists compete to create a fountain. Aromatic planting is varied along the length of the road to give a sensory and seasonally changing experience. The Tube Cube containing a pair of escalators brings pedestrians directly up to the new boulevard, simplifying the existing disorientating circulation. Flyposting is allowed to happen on a grove of vertical metal strips. An illuminated horizontal canopy above the proposed shops infills the existing arcade, reducing the downdraft of wind dropping from the facade.
Street Thrones simultaneously act as benches, wind shields, and childrens play areas.