The brief for the public realm of this new mixed used development demanded that sufficient space was allowed to accommodate 200 market stalls for the weekly market, that the archaeology of the site was respected, and that the square was an attractive foreground to the new ground floor uses.
The idea for the public realm takes its lead from the antiques market stalls; a dark, generous textural baize on which ‘trinkets’, including the new buildings and public realm furniture, are located. The texture and alignment of the clay ground material extends the site spatially beyond its edges and enhances relationships with spaces around such as the churchyard to the north. The unique bollards define an open space at the heart of the space that accommodates the weekly markets and are a delightful play attractor for children, are a comfortable seating height and robust to withstand potential vehicle impact. The catenary lighting avoids columns interrupting the openness. Simple oak benches positioned closely together allow generous shared seating platforms while two single benches at either end of the square are designed to pivot to allow controlled vehicular access to the square. All foundation details and locations of drainage and furniture elements respond to the sensitivity of the abbey ruins just below the surface.
Bermondsey Square was showcased by ‘Blueprint’ design magazine as an exemplar of urban public space in London and continues to attract a host of users from the local community and beyond.