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London Festival of Architecture and the City of London Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have selected Urban Radicals with Millimetre and AKTII as winners of the “Navigating Change: Reimagining the Square Mile” competition to design a trail of architectural interventions across the City of London.


The competition called for architects, designers, and artists to propose a trail of playful and engaging public realm interventions that envision a more welcoming and sustainable City.


The winning team proposed to leverage the Square Mile’s 2,000-year history and its Roman roots to reinvent the concept of “Square” into one acting as a backdrop for public discussions, knowledge exchange, community and inclusion.


Urban Radicals is a collaborative studio that started out in 2019 as a duo between architects Era Savvides and Nasios Varnavas, with the ambition to form an expansive network of friends, colleagues and expert collaborators, to solve problems across contexts and scales. Since then, the team has worked on projects for the Cyprus Ministry of Culture, the European Cultural Centre, Exhibition Road Culture Group, the Venice Biennale and the Goethe-Institut London, amongst others. Urban Radicals are supported by Millimetre and AKTII for their proposal to reimagine the Square Mile.


The £100,000 competition forms part of London Festival of Architecture’s 20th anniversary programming, and was held in partnership with four City of London business improvement districts; Aldgate Connect, Culture Mile BID, Eastern City BID and Fleet Street Quarter, all part of the Primera family of London BIDs.


Ruth Duston OBE, CEO of Primera which operates the City’s business improvement districts, said: “We are pleased to be working with the team from Urban Radicals, Millimetre and AKTII on this exciting project as part of the London Festival of Architecture’s 20th anniversary. Throughout its 2,000-year history, the City of London has adapted and transformed to meet the needs of the future. As the City continues to evolve, now is a good opportunity to look at what the next iteration of the Square Mile could look like, through a lens of design and architecture. We look forward to welcoming visitors to this celebration of the Square Mile, in June.”


Nasios Varnavas, Partner at Urban Radicals, said: “We are excited and honoured to have been selected to Reimagine the Square Mile. This is an important 20-year milestone for the London Festival of Architecture, and we hope that our work will nurture the same openness that LFA has been advocating for over the years. Our project will reimagine forms of assembly at various scales, both as material processes as well as social catalysts.”


To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the London Festival of Architecture called for public spaces across London to be temporarily reimagined to capture the public’s imagination and inform longer term meaningful changes. Building on LFA’s long history of trialling public realm initiatives in the City, the trail will bring together a series of unique interventions that respond to their local context and are linked by the 2024 festival theme of ‘Reimagine’.


Benjamin O’Connor, Director at NLA, said: “The proposal from Urban Radicals, Millimetre and AKTII really captured the heart of what we are seeking to deliver with this series of unique interventions that celebrate the City’s rich historical foundations and building towards innovative solutions that create a welcoming, inclusive environment for all those that live, work and play in the City today.


“We look forward to summer 2024 when we will be able to enjoy the trail with our fellow Londoners.”


The “Navigating Change: Reimagining the Square Mile” competition was judged by a panel of architectural and design experts chaired by Benjamin O’Connor, Director, NLA. The judging panel included: Clarisse Tavin, Group Manager Major Programmes and Projects, City of London; Eddie Blake, Director, Studio Weave; Harriet Browning, Associate, Civic Engineers; Paolo Mendoza, Landscaping and Urban Design Consultant, Arcadis; Hannah Penwarden, Student Representative, London Metropolitan University.


The winning team will now work closely with the City of London BIDs to further develop their vision, with more details to be revealed in due course.


Meet the design team


ERA SAVVIDES is a Partner at URBAN RADICALS. She comes from Cyprus, and was trained as an architect at the UCL. Era is experienced working across complex architectural and public realm schemes. Her design philosophy centres around a material-based, conscious, and circular approach to design and making, which she explores through projects furthering into community-based and collaborative practices. Throughout her career Era has been actively involved in academia. She is currently a permanent researcher and lecturer at the University of Westminster.


NASIOS VARNAVAS is a Partner at URBAN RADICALS. He is Cypriot, with a professional experience that varies from working in Tokyo at Kengo Kuma, to Vienna at Coop Himmelb(l)au, to London for Heatherwick Studio and for Prof. Will Alsop with whom he worked side by side, as a lead designer as well as a painter for exhibitions. These helped Nasios develop a passion for working with people and communities, seeing how public consultation and design could be done and communicated differently, and establishing an ethos of operating with agency and openness. Nasios is an experienced educator and researcher, currently teaching at the Bartlett UCL and the University of Westminster.


AMY KEMPA is a Part II Architect at URBAN RADICALS. During her postgraduate studies at UCL she was awarded the Design realisation: innovation in detail prize and the Ambroyse Poynter Medal

for distinguished work in diploma thesis. Her professional experience encompasses a diverse range of international projects within the cultural and public realm, spanning from the permanent redesign of galleries to the creation of bespoke temporary furniture interventions. Amy’s research challenges the conventional notion of permanence in built form through a performative temporal design approach, exploring the fluid relationship between fabricated and natural matter.


ADAM HARRIS is a project manager and designer at MILLIMETRE and will project manage the collaboration. As part of the design working group, he will also provide early-stage design input relating to fabrication, construction and installation. Adam is also an experienced landscape architect and will advise on possible greening strategies and systems.


EDOARDO TIBUZZI is a director at AKTII engineers. Edoardo specialises in 3D design and research and leads AKT II’s computational research team in London. During his time at the Civil Engineering Faculty

of Rome II University, Edoardo’s focus was initially on structural repair and refurbishment. After university, he developed a profound interest in interoperable modelling, multi-scale modelling of structures and design optimisation. In terms of academia, Edoardo has also been involved in several collaborations with KTH University in Stockholm, and Tor Vergata University in Rome, where he ran various lectures and workshops.


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