The City of London Corporation, together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, has announced plans for a major destination for culture and creativity in the Square Mile. The result will add significantly to the area’s meetings and events and business tourism offering and has been dubbed ‘Culture Mile’.
This ambitious and transformational initiative will create a vibrant cultural area in the north-west corner of the City over the next 10 to 15 years. Stretching just under a mile from Farringdon to Moorgate, Culture Mile will have creative exchange, cultural collaboration and learning at its core in an area where 2,000 years of history collide with the world’s best in culture.
Culture Mile’s core partners are all internationally acclaimed organisations in their own right and some partnerships already operate across these institutions. Over the next decade and beyond, the five partners, led by the City of London Corporation, will transform the area, improving their offering for event buyers with imaginative collaborations, outdoor programming and events seven days a week. Links between venues will be improved and major enhancements to the streets and wider public realm will enliven the area, which, as Culture Mile expands and flourishes, will be regenerated.
Crossrail’s new Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate, which open in December 2018, will make it much easier to travel to and from the City. Around 1.5 million additional visitors a year will be within a 45-minute journey of the area when the Elizabeth Line becomes fully operational in December 2019 and the North-South Thameslink line is upgraded. Farringdon will have direct access to three major London airports, with a 30-minute journey time from London Heathrow. It will be the only place where London Underground, Thameslink and Crossrail all interlink and will be one of the busiest stations in the UK, making the area more connected than ever to London and beyond.
There are three major building projects associated with Culture Mile that enhance its potential scale and ambition include:
- the new Museum of London at West Smithfield, which is already developing its designs,
- the proposed Centre for Music, for which the preferred site is currently occupied by the Museum of London – has recently announced the shortlist of world-class architects competing to develop the concept design for a state-of-the-art building of acoustic and visual excellence,
- and the transformation of Beech Street, which will become a crucial axis for Culture Mile. The City of London Corporation is assessing how best to transform Beech Street, to make it a more welcoming environment, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, including new measures to improve air quality, introducing retail units and providing better access to the existing cultural destinations either side of it. There will be consultation on the proposals to achieve these aims.
The City of London Corporation is working to improve the environment and urban realm across Culture Mile through a programme that delivers better way-finding, signage, green spaces, lighting, public information and art installations.
To signal the first steps in the animation and transformation of the area, Culture Mile Pop Ups has been unveiled, featuring a range of temporary art installations, gardens and signage. Later this year there will be a new public realm strategy designed by Fluid, setting out how to create a series of connected places, forming a world-renowned destination that relishes its contrasts and places culture at its heart. This strategy forms part of a City-wide programme of public realm improvements across the Square Mile, including improving air quality through a new Low Emission Neighbourhood around the Barbican and Golden Lane Estate area.
Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation said: “We are redefining the City of London so that the Square Mile becomes known and admired as much for being a world-class cultural destination as for its position as a leading global financial centre. Culture has been at its heart for centuries alongside commerce, and now more than ever, arts and culture are vital to the UK economy and our position in the world. As one of the country’s largest funders of cultural activities, we stand firmly behind Culture Mile. There is no doubt that Culture Mile will transform the area and in the face of Brexit send a signal to the world that London is – and will always be – a welcoming, open and resolutely internationalist city.”
Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London; Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre; Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra; Lynne Williams, Principal Guildhall School said: “This is a once-a-generation opportunity to regenerate the north-west of the City from Farringdon to Moorgate and to work together to transform Culture Mile into a world-leading cultural and creative destination. With the arrival of Crossrail, vastly increased numbers of people will have access to the area; Culture Mile is at the start of its journey and the partners will collaborate more closely, improve the environment, provide better access, enliven the area with outdoor programming, be more visitor friendly and celebrate learning at its core. We will develop a wider network of organisations who share a commitment to help transform the area over the next decade and to create a vibrant creative community.”