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Reed Watts

Reed Watts Architects, London

Finsbury Circus

This competition entry for a new pavilion and landscape takes its cue from the Arts and Crafts Movement specifically the architectural order of Lutyens, and the rich garden designs of Gertrude Jekyll. The brief called for new proposals for the elliptical ‘square’ in the centre of Finsbury Circus in the City of London. The historic park and garden is characterised by its strong geometry, numerous mature trees and the coherent backdrop of large stone buildings which surround it. 

By reinforcing the boundary, the designs create a special sense of place within the garden, enhancing the feeling of sanctuary from the city. Our proposals, developed with Landscape Projects, exploit the natural characteristics of the site in a picturesque arrangement. We avoided direct routes across the garden to encourage visitors to slow their pace and engage with their surroundings.

The garden design has two distinct areas that respond to the existing topography and aspect. To the west, the garden is characterised by leafy, shade loving plants which lie beneath the tall plane trees. To the east, the garden incorporates a large area of sunny lawn for picnicking and events with a number of colourfully planted beds that provide different experiences throughout the year. 

The new pavilion is positioned between the two landscapes and sits low in the landscape with framed views in all directions, each view providing a different experience of the landscape. The single storey building incorporates a taller ‘chimney’ element which acts as an identifiable beacon and orientating device for those both inside and outside the garden.

The building is clad in terracotta/ clay panels of varying size. These advocate a hand-made, crafted building which is very much at home in the picturesque landscape. Like the surrounding classical buildings the design exhibits a clear hierarchy with plainer, robust panels at the base, more ornate tiles at balustrade level, and finishing with a flourish at the top of the chimney.