Tonkin Liu transforms a portion of Old Street into a new public thoroughfare
Promenade of Light, Tonkin Liu’s masterplan for the pedestrianisation of Old Street in London exemplifies how small but carefully planned intervention can dramatically improve the street life of a city. The scheme has turned a neglected part of the city into a vibrant through route and public space where people can sit, linger, eat, talk, play and meet in a relaxed way.
18 London plane trees were added to site’s existing 21 mature trees and a light stone footway measuring 2015 sqm was laid beneath, arranged around circular planters, benches, tables and cycle facilities.
A promenade is a celebration of walking, allowing ideas to unfold and relationships to grow. Shifting the circles of movement around the trees in clusters and clearings the Promenade encourages the different rhythms of its users and creates urban rooms under the shelter of the trees.
A light stone maximises the dappling effect of sunlight and shadows during the day and provides a canvas for theatrical lighting at night. Stone panels are pre-cut and designed to slot in like jigsaw pieces around the furniture for ease of maintenance or replacement. Lighting, operated by a sun tracking timer switch is provided by tall lamp columns with 6-8 multi-directional beams, a bespoke system designed in partnership with Targetti.
The promenade was extended this Spring to include a magnolia tree with reflective mirror base. The practice is now working with Transport for London to develop proposals to extend the new green space across the traffic island.