If there’s one man that knows the city of London better than any other its Sir Terry Farrell: the man at the helm of a vast redesign project in the west of the city. Earl’s Court is a somewhat run down area of the metropolitan city brimming with potential, and after a full year’s consultation with local residents’ groups and key stakeholders, plans for the regeneration of the 77acre site will go on display for the public tomorrow.
Yesterday WAN had a sneak preview of the exhibition in the Museum Hall of Earl’s Court 1. The interactive displays include touch-screen presentations, scale models of the masterplan, video interviews with designers and a walk-through concept map in the centre of the floor, all supported by colourful information boards explaining the ideas behind the layout.
In basic terms the area will be split into ‘Four Villages and a High Street’, each community base modelled loosely on a prosperous area in the capital. For example North End Village has been influenced by the youthful energy of Hoxton and Shoreditch, whereas West Kensington Village will be inspired by the upmarket Knightsbridge area and Marylebone High Street, whose contemporary architecture and distinctive silhouettes will be encapsulated in the reinterpreted design.
Earls Court Village and North End Village will be connected east-west by a thriving new High Street, with many retail chain outlets replaced by cultural facilities such as gallery spaces and local suppliers in an adaptation of the traditional British high street. Sir Terry Farrell’s inspiration behind this innovative connecting lane is the shift to internet shopping and how this has altered the way in which residents utilise their local high streets. He suggests that this new intersection must be a flexible space which acts as an interactive education system, providing social bases where local residents can meet for coffee before browsing locally produced wares.
Sir Terry Farrell, Founder of Terry Farrell & Partners, explains: “In developing the masterplan for Earls Court, our inspiration is London. We have looked at the best of London and the architectural fabric of nearby Kensington and Fulham in particular, and used that to guide our designs. The ‘Four Villages and a 21st Century High Street’ create a wholly new and remarkable place for London, but one which knits seamlessly into the existing urban grain.”
Also intersecting the development from West Kensington to West Brompton is a north-south route known as The Broadway which will incorporate commercial outlets, hotels, health clubs, and community facilities with a distinctly more metropolitan feel than the pulsating centre of the High Street. During the substantial consultation process undertaken by the architects and owners of the site, one point that continued to crop up was the current lack of green space. As a result, the freshly published masterplan is dotted with intimate leafy squares, tree-lined boulevards and a sizeable park overlooked by residential blocks of varying typologies.
In no way is this a short-term plan. Ten architecture practices will be collaborating on the scheme for 15-20 years in a phased approach that will kick off after the 2012 Olympic Games as Earl’s Court will be hosting the volleyball tournament. The existing art deco Earl’s Court exhibition centres will be demolished to make way for an expanse of green public space bordered by residential developments.
The first phase of the project will begin in Seagrave Road car park with a residential development of varying typologies. Land included in the 77acre scheme is owned by EC&O Properties, Transport for London and LB Hammersmith & Fulham who are yet to confirm their involvement in the project. For more information or to provide feedback on the scheme, please visit the Earls Court Masterplan website here.