“Doctor Who” made London’s police lodges famous. Can this overhaul do
Police stations across the UK have closed due to budget cuts. It is no different in London, as the stations are consolidated into a more centralized force. But with fewer posts, where can the public find a police officer when they want them?
To answer this question, the City of London Police brings back an old idea: the police station. After accommodation an open competition, inviting architects to submit new designs for the box, he just crowned a winner. The London architecture studio unknown works spearheaded the design of the London Stones, a vision of a small police station and community center in one, clad in natural rock as an element destined to last 200 years.
“They wanted to reinvent the 21st century police station,” says Theo Games Petrohilos, founding director of Unknown Works. “Most people outside the UK know the police station by Doctor Who. . . . It’s a 21st century reimagining, but paired with a whole new way of interacting with city police. “
Indeed, the blue police box is an icon recognized around the world. First built in the 1920s, these booths were essentially phone booths for citizens or street police to report crimes. Their very design was closed off by panels rather than windows, like a secret room directly facing the street. (Not surprising Doctor Who ran with this idea and envisioned a time traveling spacecraft inside the blue box.) As cellphones have made phones obsolete, police stations across the UK have since been phased out. Those who are still standing are there for the heritage of the city, not for their function.
While a design icon, the vintage police box also encapsulates a now-criticized take on the police. It’s an emergency system that means we demand that officers be a militaristic force to respond to crime and deliver justice, rather than serving as an empathetic first point of contact for a wider range of social services. (Although you may still wonder if the police should be a community first point of contact.)
“Part of the design brief was to create these little outposts, to keep the Bobby on pace,” says Petrohilos. “[They want] police walk around engaging communities.
The design of London Stones is the antithesis of the classic police box. Even though it’s designed to look like a large boulder, its windows and walls open up instead of being stuck closed, so it’s a place where the community feels free to come together, rather than running around. emergency. The new design has about two and a half times the footprint of the original box.
When used by an officer, the boulder opens. Its steel-framed panels unfold to reveal something much more like a bus stop than a police station, with shared seating so the public can chat even if they’re not specifically reporting a crime . Visitors don’t even need to engage with an agent if they don’t want to; touchscreens invite residents and tourists alike to find information about the city (this UX is designed by Seymourpowell, known for designing the cabin of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft).
When not in use, London Stones rests like a giant boulder, with a natural stone face (inspired by the London Stone, a mysterious artefact of orientation from the city). The natural surface is not intended to be electrically washed, but is designed to harbor lichen – to literally make it a part of London’s ecosystem, embracing nature at its core and inviting local scientists to lichen. ” sample and monitor biodiversity. Meanwhile, at night, you may notice its colorful surface projections, designed to accommodate works by local artists.
“When it’s closed, it doesn’t feel closed,” says Petrohilos. “It was a key for us. You used to see [rooms] stuck in the street which looks closed and unused. Instead, he says these buildings should always “buzz with energy.”
London police have carried out public awareness campaigns with ad hoc tents set up in the streets. London Stones takes that idea and makes it permanent, so someone always knows where to go to reach an officer. Other than all of that, however, London Stones serves as a police officer’s office. (Yes, it can be fully closed if an officer has to do a headlong job. In theory, such confidentiality could also allow someone to report a crime a bit more anonymously.)
“Something interesting we heard when we were talking to various police officers: if you’re out at night you don’t have an office,” says Petrohilos. “But it does become a nice place to FaceTime your child before bed.”
Beyond its daily use, the London Stones would also provide space to store items the community might need in an emergency, such as a defibrillator, fire extinguishing equipment and police tape. In theory, some of these emergency items would be accessible to the public, even without the presence of a police officer. It’s all part of the London Stones’ vision to be a “shared territory” between the public and the police, rather than just a beacon of authority.
So what is the next step in the project? Truth be told, even though Unknown Works won the competition, it still hasn’t received direct feedback on its final design from the city or its police department. The next step, however, would be to incorporate their specific comments and work on building a prototype for testing.
“That’s the nature of architectural competitions,” says Ben Hayes, founding director of Unknown Works. “You walk in blind with a basic brief. Commitment [with the client] come after.”