A temporary installation will be introduced next to London’s Marble Archi this summer to give views rare views over the park and Marble Arch.
As Europe’s busiest shopping street, Oxford Street has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 measures. Plans are underway to diversify the street’s spaces, but these changes will take a number of years. In the short term, Westminster City Council sought to use a temporary installation to create renewed interest in the area as London could be emerging from the conditions imposed by the pandemic.
MVRDV’s proposal for this installation takes inspiration from the history of the site. Marble Arch once marked the corner of Hyde Park, but in the 1960s new roads were added that turned the arch into a traffic island, disconnected from the rest of the park. MVRDV’s design introduces a park-like landscape of grass and trees, and ‘lifts’ this recreated corner of Hyde Park to create a 25m viewpoint that gives visitors an overview of Oxford Street and the park, and a new perspective on Marble Arch itself.
Visitors will climb to the viewpoint via a path that winds its way up the hill’s southern side, after which they will descend into a great Hall in the heart of the hill, a hollowed-out space that will be used for events, exhibitions and other activities. The exit from the hall is located in a notch in the corner of the hill that ensures the temporary structure is offset from Marble Arch. In this way, visitors are confronted with multiple views on the arch, giving them a new perspective on an object they might otherwise take for granted.
“This project is a wonderful opportunity to give an impulse to a highly recognisable location in London”, says MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas. “It’s a location full of contradictions, and our design highlights that. By adding this landscape element, we make a comment on the urban layout of the Marble Arch, and by looking to the site’s history, we make a comment on the area’s future. We enlarge the park and lift it at the corner. Marble Arch Hill strengthens the connection between Oxford Street and the park via the Marble Arch. Can this temporary addition help inspire the city to undo the mistakes of the 1960s, and repair that connection?”
Sustainability is an important consideration in the design of Marble Arch Hill. As a temporary structure, it is critical to ensure that it produces as little waste as possible when it is removed. Therefore, the design is created with the reuse of elements in mind. The scaffolding structure can of course be disassembled and reused, while the elements that make up its top layer – wood, soil, grass, and trees – will all find new uses in nearby gardens and parks.
Marble Arch Hill will open in July 2021.