Unreal City

1 Victoria Street, City of London, United Kingdom

Unreal City questions how civic architecture is made in a city without an identifiable citizenry, landscape or stable fabric. The prompt asked for proposals that "embody in their materiality and fabrication new democratic configurations." This project begins from the standpoint of a resident of the City of London, one of 9,000 or so that reside in clustered dwellings around the periphery of the most valuable square mile in the United Kingdom.

Considering their physical composition within The City of London, it should not be alarming to find that the residents hold only twenty five percent of voting rights. The remaining three quarters are controlled by the global corporations that operate within the city limits. Guild Hall, the city's equivalent of a city hall, is controlled not by residents but by representatives of foreign corporations. The City of London lacks a representative edifice for its residents.

This project proposes a new town hall on the triangular site of the former National Safe Deposit Company and above the Bank Tube station. It is surrounded by many significant buildings: Sir James Stirling’s 1 Poultry, George Dance the Elder’s Mansion House (the home of the Mayor), Christopher Wren’s St Stephen Walbrook Church of England, and Sir Norman Foster’s new Bloomberg Place (Michael Bloomberg’s new world headquarters). 

By occupying a prominent intersection at the center of the City of London, the new town hall establishes an edifice for the citizens. The building responds to its condition and prompt in three decisive ways: first, by lifting the mass of the building above the ground thereby appropriating the ground beneath for the public, second, by adapting the existing subterranean bank vault as a tube entrance and self-storage facility, and finally, by organizing the interior spaces around a shared open center.

The building is clad in lead as if signifying the endless process of change and age within the city. It does not exert itself, but rather, it receives the city as it is. Unreal City is a town hall for the people.

Artifacts, or, models suggesting new democratic configurations of space and material. These artifacts were completed at the beginning portion of the studio and influenced the ideas behind the new town hall.

Bank intersection, City of London

Drawings: Site Plan (showing City of London including residential buildings, Tube lines and project site), Floor Plans, Section and Diagrams

Void/Solid, Hall/Vault, Levels/Cells, Context/Connect

Void/Solid, Hall/Vault, Levels/Cells, Context/Connect

Final Section Model, 1/8"=1'-0"

Birds/Worms Eye View

Birds/Worms Eye View

Yale School of Architecture

Spring 2015

Advanced Studio with

Professor Niall McLaughlin

Critic Andrew Benner