A PARADOX of the Shoreditch IT and design boom – Google is on its way — is that it centres on one of the ugliest spots in London, the Old Street junction, aka Silicon Roundabout. (Hammersmith, anyone?)
That could change: Shoreditch designers, led by Silicon Roundabout project chief Alastair Parvin, of the agency 00:/, which is based near by, have drawn up Startup City to turn the junction into a giant interactive video billboard controlled by local firms and residents. Inside would be a mini city: offices with balconies and walkways.
The sad reality is that the roundabout has only a small number of shops – and they are buried along the concrete passages that worm their way to the Underground station. On top is a maelstrom of traffic wild enough to terrify the most hardened Hackney cabbie.
Russell Chopp, director of Space Station, a Shoreditch estate agency, said: “The roundabout is a landmark opportunity to articulate and amplify what is happening in the area.”
David Saxby, director of 00:/, said: “It’s partly about realising why this place is successful in the first place.
“This is about the aggregation of many small, energetic, and rapidly growing start-ups with a sharing culture rather than the single, large corporate set-up that has driven the design of the office buildings we got used to during the boom.”
Saxby said that the present advertising hoarding spaces in the centre of the roundabout are among the UK’s costliest to hire. Selling the façade of the proposed building by the pixel and the minute would make the ad spaces affordable by local firms and individuals.
Transport for London responded: “Any developments to upgrade the Old Street roundabout would need to fit in with the wider aspirations both of TfL and the the local borough [Hackney] to improve the environment and traffic conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and road-users through the junction.”
Saxby said that the roundabout was a public space “waiting to be found, used and loved”.