Borough Market’s Floral Hall coming into bloom

The seven-year regeneration of London’s centuries old Borough Market takes a step forward this month with the completion of the first phase of its highest-profile section, the Floral Hall portico.

The portico, glass roof, traders’ stalls, signage, lighting, flooring and a premium 120-seat restaurant are scheduled to be finished by October. This month, the rear half of the roof and half a dozen stands – known as ‘phase 1 (a)’ – will be completed, marking the most significant development in the area so far.

All refurbishment work is by Greig & Stephenson, including the physical structure, branding, graphics and street furniture, and the entire market is set for completion in summer 2004.

Transparent glazing and zinc form the backbone of the renovated roof section, which is designed to allow more natural light on to the trading areas below and a clearer view of Southwark Cathedral, which lies adjacent to the site, according to Greig & Stephenson director Ken Greig.

The Grade II-listed portico originally stood in Covent Garden, but was dismantled when the Royal Opera House site was redeveloped in 1999. The ROH’s expansion plans included a legal commitment to finding it a suitable home and Borough Market’s trustees – Greig & Stephenson’s client on the project – purchased the structure for £1.

‘We saw plans for the Opera House and realised the portico wasn’t included, so we contacted them,’ explains chairman of Borough Market trustees George Nicholson. ‘It’s the same age as other structures in the market so is ideal.’

The traders’ individual stalls will be slightly redesigned by the consultancy, including the creation of uniform fences to separate them, while still allowing traders to retain an individual look to their stands.

‘We’re not imposing designs on anyone,’ says Nicholson. ‘We want the character of the market to remain. What people do with their own stall is up to them,’ he says.

Greig & Stephenson is also looking at ways of developing a site on neighbouring Stoney Street, with a listed interior, into either retail or leisure premises. The trustees are currently ‘seeking interest’, says Nicholson, and are in talks with both English Heritage and the local council.

‘We are ideally looking to bring the ground floor into retail use,’ Nicholson says. There are rumours that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, a self-confessed fan of Borough Market, is interested in the upper floors of the building.

The market’s redevelopment work began in 1995 when Greig & Stephenson won a Royal Institute of Architects competition to turn what was the oldest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in London into a retail market.

Since 1998, a retail market has existed on Saturdays, running alongside the renovation work. ‘We’re running a market on a building site,’ says Nicholson.

‘The older market was darker and more atmospheric than it will be when it’s finished,’ he adds. ‘But we hope the redesign will allow it to age in its own way over the next 100 years.’

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