Studioshaw imagine using Welbeck Street car park to feed the city

If only...we could save and then repurpose outdated building typologies, giving them a future that contributes to a cyclical economy says Emma Hugh of Studioshaw

London’s brutalist-era Welbeck Street car park is due to be demolished and replaced by a luxury hotel. Not only is London already very well served by hotels, but we believe that no building should ever have to be demolished. This means we will lose one of the most beautiful and unique facades in Westminster, and gain a project that will result in more consumption at a time when our focus should be on reducing consumption and our impact on the planet.

The worldwide food production system is facing a huge challenge of guaranteeing food supply to our growing population. In the UK, levels of obesity are rising fast, in parallel with food insecurity. Cities need to play a role in the evolution of a new food system that can grow and distribute food for future generations. We need to reconsider how we might grow, distribute and repurpose our food system in order to promote a more cyclical economy.

Our dream project would be to save this piece of beautiful brutalist architecture and transform it into a hydroponic food growth centre that can supply the central London community with food as well as creating a new destination for visitors and small business. The building’s limited head height of 2.2m would be sufficient for food growth, and we would propose creating double-, triple- and quadruple-height light-filled spaces for the growth of larger plant species.

Emma Hugh is an assistant architect at Studioshaw, a young and energetic architecture studio in east London. During her studies she received several awards for her publicly driven work and this is now where her focus lies in the office, on projects such as this. Studioshaw’s work is wide-ranging at various scales, and using food to regenerate cities is a key part of its design agenda.

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