As part of our project, a crucial aspect of this website is the presentation of (and feedback on) our architectural proposals for the revival of the River Walbrook – proposals necessitated by the city’s tenuous ecological situation. We have presented three initial studies of different visions, each with its own unique approach and strategy. Each suggests a different attitude of the city towards its lost rivers, and how to reintegrate them into the urban environment. Please consider our proposals, bearing in mind they are initial, diagrammatic concepts intended to provoke, and give us your thoughts about how you think they deal with the problems of London in the future, whether you would enjoy seeing them implemented, or what you would do differently.
1. Walbrook as CIVIC CENTER
This vision for the Walbrook is one in which the river, which runs a course connecting several prominent city institutions, claims a role as a key civic space, a place where the community gathers to have lunch, sit and talk, enjoy a riverside walk, or go sightseeing. Large parts of the city are given over to public plazas which incorporate water into the urban fabric, not simply ‘raising’ the Walbrook, but elevating it to civic importance.
2. Walbrook as NATURE PRESERVE
This scheme proposes to remove large parts of the city along the course of the Walbrook, and replace it with a recreated natural landscape, similar to what might have been found before human occupation of the city — a streak of wilderness cut through the city. This nature preserve brings much-needed green space to the city, while also serving as a flood buffer and wildlife habitat.
3. Walbrook as INFRASTRUCTURE
In this scheme, the Walbrook is raised but its impact on the surrounding city, aside from disruption of automobile traffic down former streets, is kept to a minimum. It is realized as a canal, built within large concrete embankments, which are not seen as parkland, or even a public amenity – (although they may or may not be accessible to the public). In this way, the Walbrook is ‘restored’ the point where it can serve a essential purpose in enhancing London’s flood protection, but minimizes the impact of ‘restoring’ the river on the surrounding city.