On the intersection between Newgate Street and Kind Edward Street in the City of London lay the ruins of Christ Church Greyfriars. Bombed during the Second World War, and left as a monument to the War, the church was originally one of Wren’s, a replacement to the medieval original destroyed during the Great Fire of London. Smaller than the Gothic original, Wren’s design was altered significantly over the years. In 1940, the church was severely damaged during an air raid. The roof and vaulting collapsed, with most of the wooden interior destroyed. In 1950, the stone remains of the church were Grade 1 listed, the destruction of the Eastern wall being the main change in the following years.
Today, the church is an open public garden, with its tower now a selection of flats. The site’s central location close to St Paul’s makes it an important landmark that speaks of the destruction that allowed Wren’s churches, along with the modern day destruction that followed.
In this third year project, I was tasked with developing an exhibition housed within a pavilion on the site of Christ Church Greyfriars. The project's aim was to get us to consider architecture at as smaller scale, allowing us to approach form, materiality and tectonics as well as representational techniques.
The project’s short duration meant that quick decision making was important. Designs needed to be decided on early and then developed. While we might make mistakes, it was important to acknowledge them and move forward. In addition to all of this, it was important for us to carefully consider light and shadows, as well as scale in terms of the difference between furniture and architecture.
The concept of my pavilion and the exhibition housed within is based upon the idea of history getting in the way of design. When Wren worked on designing a new London following the Great Fire, his plans were blocked by the land owners who's buildings had been destroyed. With this pavilion, it was important to consider the ruins of Greyfriars and incorporate them in the design. This results in a pavilion that in places reimagines the former church and in others is obstructed by it. This is most notable in the recreation of one of the structural columns which obstructs the journey through the exhibition.
The brief required the housing of 3D printed models of Wren church spires within the pavilion's exhibition. To add context to these spires I wanted to show Wren's original plan for the reconstruction of London in the form of a scale model displayed below the column. The plan's failure demonstrates the need for the church spires as beacons to Londoners. Visitors to the exhibition would be able to view the city model and the church spires from above - a designer's perspective - and below - a Londoner's perspective.