London Festival of Architecture 2019


A bespoke Corten Steel and GRP planter and bench set were commissioned from IOTA by architects PARTI for the London Festival of Architecture 2019. This ‘City Parklet ‘is one of three temporary parklets across the City and the result of a design competition organised by the London Festival of Architecture and the City of London Corporation. Each parklet showcases one of London’s brilliant emerging architects and designers, while transforming kerbside areas into a place to rest, relax and admire the City.

The PARTI design mixes local landscape with ecological construction and a playful, flamboyant architecture. A whimsical planter and bench are created from ‘ever-lasting’ and zero maintenance Corten Steel, infilled with reused construction rubble from demolition works taking place adjacent to the Parklet. Using London’s history as a marshland as inspiration, a collection of tall grasses and wild flowers tackle localised pollution by filtering air from the nearby road and construction site.

Almost 7m in length and 1210mm high, the ‘Rocks and Reeds’ planter creates a striking green feature in Billiter Street – a very busy, but architecturally rather bland, cut-through between Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall Street, near to The Gherkin. 2.0mm Corten Steel was punched with a hexagonal, honeycomb pattern; and then rolled into its complex, sinuous, sculptural form, before being fully-welded and faired. Access panels and a multi-section construction, allowed the planter to be filled with rubble and assembled on-site.  

The ‘Rocks and Reeds’ bench is of essentially similar metal construction as the planter, which is then married to a bench section of GRP. The planter and bench work in harmony together; but the bench, in particular, has a definite personality. With its ‘head’ pointing towards Fenchurch Street, the bench appears almost to be on-the-move, and poised to “make a run for it”…!

IOTA’s in-house resources include leading-edge design and production technologies, and these are clearly demonstrated in the execution of this scheme. In addition, however – and every bit as important here – the IOTA team also possess traditional, manual metal work skills, without which the scheme could not have been made. All of the curves were hand-rolled by IOTA’s English Wheel specialist – a skill which allows artisans to create compound (double curvature) curves by hand. Mastering use of the English Wheel is an art form, requiring a keen sense of touch and depth of material knowledge, plus years of experience.

Founded by Directors Eleanor Hill and Tom Leahy, PARTI aspires to produce efficient, well-crafted architecture that is intelligent, beautiful and rigorously sustainable. Recent PARTI projects include The Lodges Resort – a proposal for a resort hotel on Kangaroo Island, South Australia; and Sizergh Quarry – a residential housing scheme sited within a disused limestone quarry in the Lake District.

Of IOTA’s work on the ‘Rocks and Reeds’ Parklet, Eleanor said:

“We are really, really happy about how it has turned out - it looks beautiful! We truly appreciate the huge effort that has gone into this from the IOTA team. And we have all been incredibly impressed with the quality of the work, as well as the speed of fabrication, and accuracy to our original idea”.


Image Copyright:
As noted in the image Information bars, certain images are © 2019 PARTI and certain other images are © 2019 Luke O’Donovan  Any use of these images must be cleared with the copyright holders.

All other images, not specifically accredited, are © 2019 IOTA Garden and Home Limited, and may be used according to the terms of the Licence Agreement downloadable from this page. 

Contact IOTA T. 01934 522617