MVRDV has revealed plans for a temporary installation next to london’s marble arch that will open later in 2021. designed as a ‘hollowed-out mountain’ based on a scaffolding structure, the project — called ‘marble arch hill’ — will redefine the connection between oxford street and hyde park while giving visitors rare views over the surrounding area. 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, as these changes will take a number of years, local authorities sought to use a temporary installation to create a renewed interest in the area.
all images © MVRDV
MVRDV explains that 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 25-meter-tall (82 ft) viewpoint that affords sweeping views of oxford street and the park, while offering a new perspective on marble arch itself.
‘this project is a wonderful opportunity to give an impulse to a highly recognizable 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?’
the architects explain that the installation will be experienced through a single continuous route. visitors will climb to the viewpoint via a path that winds its way up the hill’s southern slope, 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 happenings. 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.
the installation uses a scaffold structure on its base, which will support the plywood and soil layers needed for the grass upper layer to grow. at strategic points, the structure is adapted to hold large planters that will be home to trees. MVRDV says that design draws from two of its previous projects: a temporary scaffold structure in rotterdam, and its 2004 proposal for the serpentine pavilion in hyde park — the only iteration of the pavilion that the museum was unable to realize.
from an environmental perspective, the structure has been designed to produce as little waste as possible. the scaffolding can be disassembled and reused, while other elements — the wood, soil, grass, and trees — will all find new homes in nearby gardens and parks. ‘marble arch hill’ will open in july 2021, with its closing date in the winter still to be determined.
name: marble arch hill
location: london, united kingdom
client: westminster city council
program: temporary installation
founding partner in charge: winy maas
director: gideon maasland
design team: gijs rikken, sanne van manen, joanna wirkus, paulina kurowska
visualizations: antonio luca coco, angelo la delfa, luana la martina
copyright: MVRDV 2021 – (winy maas, jacob van rijs, nathalie de vries, frans de witte, fokke moerel, wenchian shi, jan knikker)
philip stevens I designboom
feb 16, 2021