09 February 2023

MICA participate at FUTURE CITIES FORUM - The Making of the Modern City ll - 'New Districts' event

MICA recently attended the FUTURE CITIES FORUM to participate in thought provoking discussion on best practice for the creation of new districts in London, the Thames Estuary and Essex. The event was held on 3rd February in the City of London.

The forum sought answers to the following questions:
- How do we develop and remodel our public spaces post-pandemic?
- What is the role of culture in encouraging visitors and office staff back to London?
- How can we link to blue infrastructure to improve life in our cities?
- How can we ‘humanise’ transport infrastructure for wellbeing?
- Why do we need better models of public / private collaboration?

FUTURE CITIES FORUM created a blog which summaries some of the discussion and project experience raised. MICA’s experience is extracted below:-

Centre Point is a Grade II Listed complex within central London. The designs transform the office building and public realm into a new residential use tower with retail, restaurants and a major public space at its base.

MICA Architects state that it was designed originally as part of a traffic gyratory system, and that their remodelling proposals consider the complex of buildings in their wider setting, afforded opportunities by Crossrail and Camden’s West End Project to create a new London square. Formed of four structurally independent parts: Tower, Link bridge, House and Extension, the buildings exhibit remarkable structural ingenuity.

Matt Abbott, Development Director, Almacantar described the importance of heritage:

At Centre Point which is a listed building, we have preserved the heritage. The beautiful St Giles Square has been opened up with the change in bus routes around the area. The public realm is now so much more attractive. Tenants want to see an active neighbourhood with restaurants, bars and cultural activities...wanting a more positive association between their brands and the local spaces.'

Jamie Lilley, Associate at MICA commented at the forum:

'Since 2014, MICA Architects have been working on the public realm and first five storeys of Centre Point, looking at ways you can break down the thresholds of the architecture of a masculine generation and how you move people around the spaces at ground level. There is the consideration of the bus traffic and why the tower is there and a unique opportunity to be light and playful with an environment the size of Leicester Square.

'There is pressure to provide coherence with the underground station to tie in with the landscape scheme and retail under the leadership of Westminster City and Camden Council. Also the challenge of blending more transient public and private space. There need to be pocket parks and ways of attracting people in, link spaces as we travel through. Cultural strands require patience to establish and larger bodies need to support private companies. We need culture to create a dialogue throughout the day.'

MICA spoke amongst the following panellists and contributors:
Ruchi Chakravarty, Director of Place-shaping, Westminster City Council (on the Strand Aldwych)
Beatrice Pembroke, Executive Director for Culture, King’s College London
Cannon Ivers, Director, LDA Design (on the Strand Aldwych and links to the 'Cultural Mile')
Gillian Howard, Head of Projects & Programmes (Environment), City of London Corporation (on new pedestrian squares and traffic calming)
Dan Burr, Partner, Sheppard Robson (on designing new hotels in the City of London)
Alex Longdon, Principal City Planner, Transport for London (on TfL's 'healthy streets' strategy)
Ellie Evans, Managing Partner, Volterra (Liverpool Street station development and economy)
Matt Abbott, Development Director, Almacantar (on Marble Arch Place regeneration)
Jamie Lilley, Associate, MICA Architects (on Centre Point remodelling and St Giles' Square)
Steve Kennard, Director of Regeneration, Hadley Property Group (on Blackwall Yard)
Ken Dytor, Chair, Urban Catalyst (on funding and infrastructure model for Purfleet-on-Thames)
James Baker, Principal, BDP (on innovation hub at Southend Airport)
Ruth Pelopida, Associate Director, Arup (on sound curation in cities for health and culture)

To read more about the forum click here

To find out more about MICA’s work at St Giles Square click here

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