Westminster Cathedral Piazza SW1
In June 2010 we were shortlisted for and then won a design competition to provide ideas for the reuse of the piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral. The cathedral used to face onto a narrow space that was cut off from Victoria Street until the 1970s, and suffers still from a lack of civic presence. Our proposal is two-fold, to delineate the ground for use for market stalls, and to build a Baldacchino for use as a baptistry, which acts as a focus for rituals and festivals within the liturgical calendar of catholic worship. The Baldacchino is also a monument to Blessed Cardinal Newman who becomes a saint in Autumn 2019.
This small structure is derived from the scale and form of the side aisles inside the cathedral, and would be made of white concrete. One of the faces would be carved to represent the visage of The Blessed Cardinal John Newman, and over the coming centuries other faces would accept tondos representing future saints. A drinking fountain could also be used as a baptismal font. The architect of the Cathedral, Bentley, drew inspiration form St Mark's Cathedral in Venice, and by happy coincidence the form of the Piazza and Piazetta St Marco fit almost exactly into the spaces on Victoria Street, and so we proposed to replicate them here, grounding Bentley's brick campanile in London. Unfortunately, due to the constrained economic circumstances in 2011, no progress has yet been made to implement the project, although we are hopeful that the Baldacchino may be built at some point as a monument to Saint John Henry Newman.