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City of London

Part 2 Project 1998
Stephen Blowers
Oxford Brookes University, UK
The City of London. A district of business and finance. Use of the streets is dominated by the office timetable, packed in rush and lunch hours, deserted at night and weekends.

Past development at Canary Wharf and city peripheries has contributed to a fashion of relocation. Empty offices are now being redeveloped for residential use.


Provision of sports facilities designed to relate to public space contribute activity to the streets. Workers begin to linger after hours and outsiders enter the City. Extended periods of use and increasing population act as a catalyst for revitalising urban activities (cafes, bars, restaurants etc.). A critical self-sustaining mass is achieved.

The City transformed. An attractive place to live and visit.

I chose the City of London as one of the most polarised places, in terms of use, I had experience of. I became interested in the idea of using the unit theme of 'Sport' to add activity to the urban spaces. The sports would become a focal point for City workers and passers-by, connecting working space with public space via a common point of interest. In order for the interventions to have a wide impact I placed them over an area as singular events, in contrast to a sports centre, to create a sports district. The sites were chosen on a walk around the City, using a variety of space types (gaps between buildings, plaza, road, side of building) along the natural spines of Cornhill / Leadenhall Street and Bishopsgate.

As I developed each scheme my major concern was that the activity should be as closely related to the public space around it as possible. This lead to proposals for: an outdoor swimming pool in the plaza below the Commercial Union Building (the mist on the surface of the water, the splashing of water onto the pavement, noise of traffic competing with the noise of swimming, smell of chlorine against fumes all as essential as the more obvious visual relationships); an archery range along Bishopsgate after rush hour; a squash court outside the Royal Exchange Buildings; and a Scuba diving centre between two banks on Leadenhall St. opposite the entrance to the market.

I visited a number of notable people in the City (including former policy chairman of the Corporation of London, Michael Cassidy and Sports Development Officer, David Gillin) and persuaded the Financial Times to publish a brief article about my proposal for the City Swim. I am now hoping to take things one stage further by applying for outline planning permission in order to gain further media attention and backing. I have gained support for this, including a promise from Tim MacFarlane of Dewhurst MacFarlane to assist in further design and backing of the scheme.

Stephen Blowers

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