Room, City, Building
Repairing the city
A. Sebastian Schulte / Universität Stuttgart
Living and working has always been strongly linked to large urban interventions that have been taking place in the metropolis. At the site of the sorting office a major intervention took place in 1848, when New Oxford Street was built, cutting through the rookery and district of St. Giles. In the following decades the site has developed to this moment, when three neighbouring buildings with large depths and heights formulate the public space. As a result the urban situation is cramped and no public space is available to the public.
My project aims to heal this part of the city by rearranging the building masses around the sorting office, thereby forming a public square garden. At the same time the axis of New Oxford Street is interrupted and the original north-south Axis of Drury Lane is reinforced. Within this axis the church St. Georges of Bloomsbury by Nicholas Hawksmoore is placed within the axis, which allows for a strong civic presence at the square. In reference to developments, such as Bedford square the surrounding facades are constructed as frameworks, reinforcing the perspective towards the church.
Programmatically, the urban situation is supported by two public functions, theatre and gallery, holding the borders at Oxford Street. In addition, a mixed use of offices and housing aims to make for a lively and active public square.
In the south west corner of the urban situation a hotel, that can function as a housing unit is introduced. The typology is developed from the original typologies of terraced housing, that traditionally border the square garden developments in London. The units within is block are reduced to a very narrow section, allowing for the largest number of rooms to have visibility of the square and at the same time high flexibility. All of these are accessed from a linear lobby, that spans between two terraces. The space is defined by the stairwells that lead to the rooms and leans on the mews entrance, as an inspiration. After the very public square and the semi public lobby space the individual rooms form the most private element of the design. The individual rooms connect the inside with the park through a thick wall and formulate the facade, as part of the whole project. The hotel becomes part of the city network, where living away from home does not depend on the actual building but the overall quality of the city.