The re-development of the former YMCA tower at the Barbican Complex, London was always going to present a number of challenges. The tower has Grade II listed status and has stood unoccupied for a number of years within the wider setting of public courtyards, squares and gardens.
Providing landscape architecture and heritage consultancy for clients Redrow our experts rose to the challenges presented by the re-development, most importantly preserving the architectural significance of the tower and features identified within the list description. This included the existing public plaza at the base of the tower which formed the transition to the adjacent Golden Lane Estate. The client’s brief was to adapt the public realm and external space to create an exciting and commercially viable space for modern day living.
Working alongside project architects, Harper Downie, the proposals included internal modification and external adaptation of the tower. Our landscape architects developed the legibility of the public realm which forms the transitional edge to the wider Barbican estate. We also undertook a comprehensive urban constraints and opportunities study to critically review and identify the buildings role within the wider public realm. The study called upon expertise in townscape and Visual Impact Assessment and appreciation of the heritage asset and its setting. From the outset the team identified key view corridors, carried out public space analysis and reviewed pedestrian movements across the site. The outcome from the site appraisal and analysis was a series of key public realm drivers, to help define the future development of the plaza and immediate environs.
Peter Harrison, Director, Urban and Landscape Design comments: ‘From the outset it was important that our team identified both the character and landscape attributes of the immediate site area but also the setting within the Barbican complex and wider City of London Skyline. The London View Management Framework identified a series of ‘River Prospects’ which included No 2 Fann Street within the view corridor. One such River Prospect was towards the site from the Millennium Bridge. Our understanding of heritage setting and how this complements visual impact assessment was important within our early advice to the client’.