“Our brief was to deliver a contemporary transformation of the old fish market. This required a radical intervention that still managed to remain sensitive to the original fabric.”
Having completed Lloyd's of London, Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP, now Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, RSH+P) found that attitudes in the City of London had changed, with a strong emphasis on conservation and a predilection on the part of the planners for ‘contextual’ – often Post Modernist – designs where new buildings were concerned. The practice, however, strongly favoured the retention of historic buildings of quality and agreed to advise the conservation group SAVE on its campaign to preserve the redundant Billingsgate fish market, owned by the City (which proposed to demolish it for redevelopment).
In the event, the market was retained and acquired by a major bank for conversion as a financial-services building. The client sought a large area of open dealing floor space – to which the Victorian structure was ideally suited. Externally, the aim was to restore lost details and to clean and repair, but to add nothing new. Inside, some changes were needed, chiefly to open up and use the huge basement vaults which entirely lacked natural light. The main floor of the market was, however, uncompromised by the addition of the new galleries, lightweight and structurally independent of the existing building. One of the most striking internal spaces is the former ‘haddock gallery’, which was left intact and converted for office use. Close attention was paid to detailing to ensure an immaculate junction between old and new.
Rogers commented on the scheme: ‘We sought harmony of modern with old in a single building’. Sited quite close to Lloyd’s of London, Billingsgate has come to epitomize Rogers’ views on urbanism.
- Place/Date: London, England 1985 – 1988
- Client: Citibank/Citicorp
- Area: 11,200 m²
- Architect: Richard Rogers Partnership
- Structural Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
- Services Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
- Quantity Surveyor: GA Hanscomb Partnership
- Lighting Consultant: Lighting Design Partnership
- Main Contractor: Taylor Woodrow Management Contracting Ltd
- BBC Design Awards Finalist, 1990
- Civic Trust Award, 1989
- RIBA National Award, 1989
- RIBA Regional Award, 1988
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