Thursday 7 January 2021 9:26 am City of London Corporation

New concept designs for Smithfield East & West Market buildings and Rotunda unveiled

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  • The City of London Corporation has revealed the first images of new concept designs for  turning these special buildings into a new food and cultural destination for all Londoners. 
  • The new images, which have been put together by architects Studio Egret West, show  how the buildings could be used in the future – helping to strengthen and diversify the  cultural and creative offer of the Square Mile, while attracting new visitors and the wider  public to the market buildings.  
  • The new concept designs have evolved following public engagement held in the summer  of this year, with a further iteration set to be released during 2021.  

The City of London Corporation has today (Thursday 17 December) revealed new concept designs to re-imagine the nationally significant landmark and secure the legacy of the Grade  II* listed East and West Smithfield buildings and the Grade II Rotunda as the heart of a  thriving and inclusive Culture Mile.  

The concepts, which have been put together by architecture practice Studio Egret West,  show how these iconic buildings could be sensitively restored and transformed to  accommodate a myriad of exciting uses. This could be based around an innovative approach  to food – including food growing, preparation and consumption on one site – with education  and training at its heart, alongside a mixture of new cultural and entertainment spaces. The  suggested physical interventions would reveal new public spaces and open-up the buildings  to allow local communities, workers, and visitors alike to better interact with and enjoy the  rich layers of history and intriguing spaces inside. 

The proposals focus on the vision for the East and West Market buildings, once Smithfield  Market operations have moved to a new state-of-the-art site which will give the historic  market the facilities it deserves and the space to grow. The City Corporation submitted an  outline planning application to co-locate the market alongside Billingsgate and New  Spitalfields markets at a site in Dagenham Dock in June this year. A Private Bill is required in  order to move all three markets and the alternative future for Smithfield will form part of that  process.  

A future iteration of Smithfield could help to further grow London’s ecosystem, strengthening  and diversifying the Square Mile’s cultural and creative offer so it becomes an even more  attractive destination in its own right. The offer would work in harmony with the new Museum  of London planned to the West of the site, which received planning approval earlier this year,  and will crucially form part of the City of London’s wider vision for Culture Mile, stretching  from Moorgate to Farringdon.

This could form a central part of the capital’s recovery and reinvention post-Covid, facilitating new ways of creative and cultural participation, while also extending the City’s reach to new  audiences. New uses for the Smithfield market buildings could also encourage an increase in  weekend and evening visitors through the curation of new spaces for socialising, meeting,  sharing, and collaborating. 

The updated concept designs have evolved following public engagement held in the summer  of this year, where the majority of feedback was very positive, with respondents welcoming  the design principles and proposed interventions.  

Grand Avenue cut through  

The image above shows possibly the most significant and exciting intervention – a cut  through part of the floor of the Grand Avenue to connect, visually and physically, with the  basement levels.  

Carefully and sensitively removing a part of what is currently a road would bring natural  daylight and ventilation into the below ground spaces of the former rail goods yard and help  visitors move around the buildings more easily. 

The cut would also, very importantly, allow the ground floor halls to be connected to one  another below ground so that they could work together for large events or activities whilst  maintaining public access through the buildings. 

Continuing the legacy of food, new kiosks could be introduced. The stalls would bring new  life and activity to the Grand Avenue with micro industries and independent food and drink  start-ups making and selling produce on site and providing training and cookery lessons.

Basement hall and multi-purpose box 

The current underground spaces are cavernous and could be transformed into a new and  exciting underground world that supports the best creative talent the UK has to offer, with  flexible showcasing spaces that complement the above ground uses reached via lifts and the  new opening in the Grand Avenue.  

The basement could also accommodate a state of the art performance space that would  provide the multi-media experience audiences will expect in the future from great  destinations – be that an award ceremony or supporting a local performance 

An all-seasons garden 

A delicate glass roof would allow for the creation of a physic garden as part of the winding granite setts of the Victorian Rotunda ramp, a truly unique space within the City and a fitting  threshold between the buildings and the wider Smithfield public realm. 

These first Smithfield images will be added to as further detail on the concept designs  emerge next year as the City Corporation develops its material to submit as part of the  Private Bill process to move all three wholesale food markets to Dagenham Dock in East  London.  

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation, said:  

“These new concept designs showcase our commitment to restoring and reimagining the Smithfield East and West Market buildings and Rotunda as a new and exciting destination  that reflects their traditional role in the capital’s food chain while also opening up new cultural  and entertainment spaces for the public.  

“These proposals are not only a key part of our wider ambition to create a vibrant and new  world-class Culture Mile at the heart of the historic Square Mile, but they will also support the City’s recovery and reinvention following the pandemic.  

“The Square Mile will no longer just be a destination for workers – it will attract new visitors  and communities throughout the year, bringing a new cultural and creative offer to this part of  the capital.” 

David West, Founding Director of Studio Egret West said: 

“Smithfield Market constitutes a collection of unique spaces, above and below ground. Our  approach is to enhance what is there, to celebrate the multi-layered, metropolitan character  of the place and to release its full potential through a series of unlocking moves. We  envisage a demand for year-round public realm and airy ‘inside-outside’ spaces, especially in  the aftermath of Covid-19. Smithfield can provide a plethora of flexible creative, cultural and commercial spaces for the public to enjoy.” 

The images released today show updated concept designs on how the Smithfield East and  West Market buildings and Rotunda could look and what they could be used for in the future.  They have been designed by Studio Egret West (SEW), who were appointed as the lead  architects for this project in January of this year by the City Corporation. SEW are supported  by Alan Baxter Associates, Donald Insall Associates, Max Fordham, Greengage, Spiers and  Major, PT Projects, Deloitte, Iceni, and This Must Be The Place.  

You can visit to find out more about the plans and  the feedback received during the public engagement earlier this summer.  

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Smithfield, New Spitalfields and  Billingsgate Wholesale Food Markets, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural  activities in the UK and invests over £100m every year.