St Mary-le-Bow Square

This tiny square next to the Church of St Mary-le-Bow has recently been upgraded by the City of London Corporation.  The designer is landscape architects Burns and Nice who also did the square outside the Old Bailey.  The motif is of middle-eastern influence.  The square had been blighted by the construction of Bow Bells House next door and is only now starting to recover.  One sculpture and an existing tree are all that remains of the original square.  The motif is rather beautiful but somehow everything around the square conspires to make it a rather dispiriting place.  The existing bar at the back of the square is very closed in.  The new building has a Costa Coffee with doors overlooking Cheapside but not overlooking the Square.  The few coffee tables look like a vain effort to make the square more convivial.  The restaurant in the crypt of the church has lots of rather random furniture which looks quite out of place.  What has gone wrong?  The new building which has lots of retail on the ground level was clearly designed without any consideration of the square at its foot.  The square has become a cut-through but not a place worth visiting.  There’s a great tree, a nice approach to the new surface and a miserable collection of buildings all around.

Published by Paul Lincoln

Printmaker, City of London Guide and commissioning editor Landscape, the journal of the Landscape Institute.


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