Islington Council announces judges’ decisions on best design ideas for Old Street “iconic gateway”

*** for high-resolution images please click pictures above. Captions below ***

Islington Council has today (21 March) announced its judging panel’s decisions on the best design ideas for the transformation of Old Street roundabout to create an “iconic gateway” and public space.

The Old Street Iconic Gateway ‘Open Call for Design Ideas’, launched by Islington Council in partnership with the Mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL) and Hackney Council, sought bold and innovative ideas for an ‘iconic gateway’ as part of the public space at Old Street, when the 1960s roundabout is removed by TfL next year.

Last month a longlist of 39 inspiring and creative design ideas were showcased in a three-week public exhibition beside Old Street roundabout. The council’s judging panel has now chosen its best design ideas, below (in alphabetical order):

  • ‘Old Street Circus 2050’ by the Dar Group (led by Dar Landscape and Urban Design Team, with Perkins+Will, Portland Design, Elementa Consulting, Currie & Brown, Maffeis Engineering)
    The Dar vision is to reclaim the roundabout for the people of London and to transform it into a genuinely useable, vibrant, healthy and safe public space hosting a wide-range of public, private and commercial activities such as film screenings, concerts, artwork, street-markets and festivals, and in the longer term featuring an iconic sculptural ring of light that will incorporate art, dynamic information, advertising, and green infrastructure such as rain water harvesting and bee-friendly planting.
  • ‘Old Street Digital Garden’ by Gpad London Ltd (with Eyekon)
    A forest of lights that generate electricity enveloping a new pavilion, a water feature, and a ‘digital totem’ shaped by turning the existing advertising screens on their ends to house an automated cycle parking structure.
  • ‘Old Street Park’ by Nicholas Hare Architects (with Price Myers, Hoare Lea, FIRA)
    A flexible, green, smart public space for cyclists, residents, workers, and visitors that harnesses the social, environmental and economic aspirations of the area for the Old Street community.
  • ‘The Iris’ by EPR Architects (with Martin Richman, Wayfindr, Modus Operandi, Gillespies, Entuitive, Materials Council, Stage One)
    A piece of metropolitan land art centring around ‘The Iris’, a reflective lens facilitating interaction, inclusive gatherings, performances, play and relaxation.

The judging panel recognised these four ideas for their focus on creating flexible and inclusive spaces, prioritising people and pedestrians, making cyclists feel welcome, and developing an iconic concept that continues to inspire every time one enters the space. Many great ideas were put forward, and many specific elements of the entries warrant recognition. But in a very strong field, the four ideas chosen by the judges stood out as having the strongest concepts that best consider both form and function, and that strike the right balance between iconic and achievable.

A separate, formal tender process will take place next to develop feasible, affordable designs for the ‘iconic gateway’ to complement the wider transformation works. The formal tender process will be separate to the open call for design ideas, but will be informed by the open call process. The judging panel will remain in place to provide further advice for future stages of the project.

The judging panel featured:

  • Allison Dutoit from Gehl Architects, set up by Jan Gehl, whose primary focus is creating cities and places for people
  • Gerard Grech – CEO of Tech City UK, a semi-public body supporting the development of the east London start-up cluster known as London Tech City or Silicon Roundabout
  • James Dellow – Youth and Innovation Manager at Soapbox, a brand new high-quality digital, media and technology local youth club
  • Cllr Claudia Webbe (Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, and Bunhill Ward Member)
  • Cllr Feryal Demirci (Hackney Councillor and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Transport & Parks)
  • Will Norman (London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner)

The “iconic gateway” will be funded by Islington, and will add to TfL’s transformative changes to the roundabout which start in late 2018 and will see the north-western arm of the roundabout permanently closed, creating a new pedestrianised public space.

These changes, led by the Mayor and TfL in partnership with Islington and Hackney, will remove the outdated, intimidating roundabout and create a safer, more pleasant layout for people. Changes also include segregated cycle lanes, low level cycle signals, new surface-level pedestrian crossings, two new station entrances and the reintroduction of two-way traffic.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, who chaired the judging panel, said: “Old Street is an iconic place, known across the world as a vibrant hub of technology and culture, and it inspired many bold and exciting design ideas for our open call. In an extremely competitive field, the judging panel has selected the entries that we believe offer the best ideas to create an ‘iconic gateway’ for Old Street with a much improved environment for local people, cyclists and commuters, alongside the wider transformation of Old Street. We thank everyone who took part in this open call and has played a part in helping to shape the future of Old Street.”

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said: “Our transformation of Old Street is going to make this notorious roundabout easier, safer and more pleasant for Londoners to walk and cycle. It’s a great example of what we’re looking to achieve right across the capital. Islington’s open call has been a great way to generate designs to further enhance this new public space. I’d like to congratulate the four winning designs on their innovative ideas.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Transport and Parks, said: “"Together with Islington Council we are creating a low emission neighbourhood in Shoreditch, with ultra low emission streets, roads closed to through traffic and improved public spaces. However, the main roads also need to be made safer, so I'm looking forward to seeing Old Street transformed from a dangerous roundabout into a space which is safer and more pleasant to walk and cycle across."

More than 120 registrations of interest were received for the open call, which was launched in December, with 1,245 responses from the online survey enabling the public to have their say on their preferred design ideas. The judging panel considered all the public feedback received when deciding its best design ideas.

Picture captions (L-R): Dar Group (please credit) - Old Street Circus 2050; Gpad London Ltd (please credit) - Old Street Digital Garden; Nicholas Hare Architects (please credit) - Old Street Park; EPR Architects (please credit) - The Iris

Notes to editors


Islington Council has set aside a budget of £1 million toward implementation once a design has been finalised following the formal procurement process. If the final design should require further funding in order to be implemented, other funding sources will be sought.

Media contact information

If you are a member of the media and would like more information please contact:

Islington Council media team – or 020 7527 2307.  Out of hours: 07769 163303

If you are a member of the public with a general question about the council please contact:

Contact Islington – or 020 7527 2000