Following recommendation from London Borough of Tower Hamlet planners, we were invited in 1989 by the Spitalfields Development Group to study the Elder Gardens area of the proposed Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market located on the boundary of the City of London.
This particular site is edged by the Spitalfields conservation area to the north, the proposed social housing to the east and west, and the proposed new office development to the south.
The brief required the design of 100 luxury apartments and provision of 2500m2 of public park.
Our analysis and approach led us, and subsequently the client, to reject the luxury housing element and to propose a 6000m2 urban square. The design created a tree lined public ground level square and a lowered ‘appropriated’ community cultural and recreational garden. This spatial hierarchy eliminated physical barriers, relying on the psychology of defensible space. This enabled a visual continuity of the urban space with the adjacent existing and proposed urban fabric.
The design of the garden sought to respond to active and passive recreation, with the landscape and ground treatment reinforcing these, through scale, colour, smell and tactile qualities.
Our proposition included a glass clad public library building with a single layer of artist’s studio apartments above. This building acts as ‘a foil’ to the offices to the south, and mediates the scale between the offices and the park.