The Iris

Old Street

Our competition-winning proposal, in response to TfL and Islington Council's open call for ideas to regenerate the Old Street roundabout, is a piece of metropolitan land art which will transform the proposed peninsula into an interactive and inclusive place to gather, perform, play and relax, acting as a beacon for smart city innovation and the Old Street iconic gateway.

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Old Street Iris Concept Sketch

One of four winning design teams chosen by TFL and Islington Council, the competition called for ‘exciting, bold and iconic’ proposals for a new gateway structure or public artwork reflecting the area’s identity as a hub for digital innovation. EPR’s team of artists, public art curators, smart city tech pioneers, landscape architects, structural engineers and local charities, all worked collaboratively to produce proposals for their ‘metropolitan land art’ titled the Iris which saw off competition from 38 other longlisted design concepts following a public exhibition held in February 2018. 

Old Street Iris Concept Sketch 5B

We worked in collaboration with artist Martin Richman to develop a playful concept that excites the imagination, embraces cutting edge technology and integrates art into the fabric of the site. We also worked with landscape architects Gillespies, art consultants Modus Operandi, technology start-up Wayfindr, materials experts Material Council, structural engineers Entuitive and specialist fabricators Stage One to develop a scheme which unifies the various elements of the existing Old Street proposal. 

The centrepiece of the proposal is an amphitheatre space called The Old Street Iris. Conceived as a space for escape from the busy city where surrounding noise will be pushed to the periphery. The Iris creates an enclosed oasis for calm reflection which will also act as an arena for performances, art installations and community events.

Old Street Iris Cgi1
Old Street Iris Section
Old Street Iris Cgi2

Suspended above The Iris is a new circular advertisement screen, providing the same area as the existing screens with enhanced visibility from the surrounding streets. The Lens will have a convex mirrored underside, similar to a fish-eye lens, which will give an engaging visual connection to the wider site as reflections of pedestrians and the surrounding traffic swirl around the peninsula. Supporting the new advertising screen is a singular triangular shaped sculpture constructed from Corten Steel. Art is etched into the sculpture, and seating is positioned around its base.

Old Street Iris Module Construction

The site's landscaping is formed by coloured hexagonal pods which both step and ramp up to The Iris. The honeycomb formation is the most efficient geometry for achieving coverage with minimum material usage. The pavement pods also act as a canvas for public art and planting. Local artists, residents and charities will work together to create the hand crafted infills.

Old Street Iris Pavements Mockup
Old Street Iris Plan
Old Street Iris Section Sketch

The site will be a beacon for the latest tech and innovation and will feature the market leading wayfinding technology from Wayfindr. Wayfindr will use the site to showcase their open source audio-based navigation technology and as part of the Old Street Iris app will provide an inclusive navigation service for visitors to the Iris, ensuring that everyone, regardless of ability level, is able to access and make use of the space.

Client: TfL; Islington Council | Collaborators: Martin Richman; Gillespies; Modus Operandi; Wayfindr; Material Council; Entuitive; Stage One