London’s layers of history have impacted the way the city has been zoned and developed. The areas of historic land use have developed an identity and program as zoning requirements and urban needs have transformed in post war society. The areas outside the war zone still struggle to find an identity and are currently a claustrophobic skyscraper yard, given they fall outside the St. Paul’s height limit zone. Given these changes, it left this area with not many attractive amenities to retain urban energy outside business hours.
COVID-19 has transformed this business zone into a deserted city scape where there is currently not much alleviation in density for areas of respite to attract people and other programs. The cultural and historic areas have become the zones where people go for innovation and creativity. These are all things that lacked in the Business & Industry zone prior to COVID-19. Given the need for public transportation dropped by 70% bikes and walking have become the new means of transportation. Rethinking the human to street experience/program will be key, particularly in these deserted financial zones, in order to attract people back and provide a means of escape once regular office work resumes.
Our Path of intervention aims to connect and activate this deserted business center to the historical and cultural city sites and bring some of the qualities people crave from those areas such as wellness, culture, and function into the three sites. These sites will also serve as a place for respite and shelter for people when they return to normal corporate life.
Podcentric is inspired by the functionality of the London market stall, four sides each housing a different function. With inspiration from London’s Liverpool Street Station steel grids and trusses. A ‘smart’ chassis system provides access, power, and other pod program related services. The system also allows for flexibility in stacking of and attaching of pods for different uses. Each pod is self-cleaning with HEPA filters, and the overall system is self-sustaining powered by solar. The overall cluster is self-sustaining and has a zero-carbon footprint.
The Utility Pod falls in the intersection of two active streets, one of which connects to London Bridge. This site falls within the flood plain, the Fire of London impact boundary, and the zone of the sites affected by the War. The program of this pod is reflective of its location and history. What was previously underground toilets have been converted to an underground party street with Pods that rise above as a beacon that can be used for everyday utilities such as bike storage, and showers, with the underground preserved as Shelter Space for any future disasters and hazards.
The Social Pod falls in a dense, claustrophobic skyscraper zone non- representative of the historic city. The site encourages the resurgence of local identity and culture to this sector by introducing a party street to generate more breathing space in this urban setting. This creates an open space and base for these pods to start to spread. Directly connected to the history, the program of these pods includes markets as an expression of the local businesses, open areas as a hub for social interactions, flex office pods as an extension of the office, and exhibition spaces to celebrate the local culture.
The Well Pod falls in a corner park, directly connected to the start of the larger green zones of the city. It is also located adjacent to the New Broad St Medical Clinic. The proposed program responds to the health and well-being of the local community by providing an extension to nature by providing space for local fitness classes for promoting wellness, an extension to the clinic by providing pods that can convert to accommodate vaccinations and blood drives. By also serving as an extension to offices by space for mother’s rooms and private meditation pods.