My project is a counterproposal to the scheme that is currently being constructed on the Mount Pleasant site in London and can be described as a high density mixed-used development.
In recent years, the Royal Mail group sold part of its site to housebuilding company Taylor Wimpey which sought to redevelop it into a mixed-use scheme. The project was opposed by both the councils of Islington and Camden that share the site, however in 2015 Boris Johnson acted as the planning authority granting planning permission. This move generated a series of protests and different counterproposals were put forward presenting radical ideas of what urban life might be.
In terms of architecture, its masterplan is simply based on maximising the number of residential units which amount to 681 for a total of 84,811sqm. This creates a high disproportion between houses and commercial/retail space which amount respectively to 4701sqm and 2459sqm. As a consequence, the public realm of the project results in a sterile corridor that cuts through the scheme and which is functional only in terms of circulation.
Therefore, as part of this year's research, I decided to explore a viable alternative development for Mount Pleasant which proposes a different way of shaping the public realm within the city.
The project can be described in sections, as a transition from public to semi-private and private. In this journey the first element we encounter is the envelope that wraps the whole site, creating an urban gesture towards the city. At the same time, by detaching my project from the street, the envelope frees the scheme from the geometry of the surrounding roads, allowing a greater freedom over the crafting of the public realm.
Past the envelope, we enter the public realm of the project which is composed as an enfilade of courtyard spaces running along the perimeter of the site.
Adjoining the public realm there are the pavilions that host retail activities on their ground floor and provide office and commercial spaces on the upper levels. The pavilions work as a mise-en-scene appearing to be full volumes from outside while in reality they end flat with their cores against the residential mat. By placing the core at the back, it is possible to have no windows overlooking the residences and a flexible open plan space at the front. The size and orientation of these spaces varies according to each pavilion providing a range of floor plans and lighting qualities for different company sizes and uses.
The pavilions end flat against the mat of courtyard houses which is able to accommodate a variety of units ranging from one bedroom to three bedroom. All the houses are accessed from the ground floor through a passageway that cuts through the courtyards, creating a series of pockets which are appropriated by each house. The house itself can be summarised as a succession from a darker ground floor to a very bright double height space at the top, facing south.
School of Architecture
MA Architecture, 2019
- BA Architecture, University of Westminster, 2016