Eastern City - ©Mickey Lee

Urban Radicals, Millimetre and AKTII selected for LFA and City BIDs Competition

Winning team will now work with City of London BIDs to develop the trail.

London Festival of Architecture and the City of London Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have selected Urban Radicals with Millimetre and AKTII as winners of the “Navigating Change: Reimagining the Square Mile” competition to design a trail of architectural interventions across the City of London.

The competition called for architects, designers, and artists to propose a trail of playful and engaging public realm interventions that envision a more welcoming and sustainable City.

The winning team proposed to leverage the Square Mile’s 2,000-year history and its Roman roots to reinvent the concept of “Square” into one acting as a backdrop for public discussions, knowledge exchange, community and inclusion.

Urban Radicals is a collaborative studio that started out in 2019 as a duo between architects Era Savvides and Nasios Varnavas, with the ambition to form an expansive network of friends, colleagues and expert collaborators, to solve problems across contexts and scales. Since then, the team has worked on projects for the Cyprus Ministry of Culture, the European Cultural Centre, Exhibition Road Culture Group, the Venice Biennale and the Goethe-Institut London, amongst others. Urban Radicals are supported by Millimetre and AKTII for their proposal to reimagine the Square Mile.

The £100,000 competition forms part of London Festival of Architecture’s 20th anniversary programming, and was held in partnership with four City of London business improvement districts; Aldgate Connect, Culture Mile BID, Eastern City BID and Fleet Street Quarter, all part of the Primera family of London BIDs.

Ruth Duston OBE, CEO of Primera which operates the City’s business improvement districts, said: “We are pleased to be working with the team from Urban Radicals, Millimetre and AKTII on this exciting project as part of the London Festival of Architecture’s 20th anniversary. Throughout its 2,000-year history, the City of London has adapted and transformed to meet the needs of the future. As the City continues to evolve, now is a good opportunity to look at what the next iteration of the Square Mile could look like, through a lens of design and architecture. We look forward to welcoming visitors to this celebration of the Square Mile, in June.”

Nasios Varnavas, Partner at Urban Radicals, said: “We are excited and honoured to have been selected to Reimagine the Square Mile. This is an important 20-year milestone for the London Festival of Architecture, and we hope that our work will nurture the same openness that LFA has been advocating for over the years. Our project will reimagine forms of assembly at various scales, both as material processes as well as social catalysts.”

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the London Festival of Architecture called for public spaces across London to be temporarily reimagined to capture the public’s imagination and inform longer term meaningful changes. Building on LFA’s long history of trialling public realm initiatives in the City, the trail will bring together a series of unique interventions that respond to their local context and are linked by the 2024 festival theme of ‘Reimagine’.

Benjamin O’Connor, Director at NLA, said: “The proposal from Urban Radicals, Millimetre and AKTII really captured the heart of what we are seeking to deliver with this series of unique interventions that celebrate the City’s rich historical foundations and building towards innovative solutions that create a welcoming, inclusive environment for all those that live, work and play in the City today. We look forward to summer 2024 when we will be able to enjoy the trail with our fellow Londoners.”

The “Navigating Change: Reimagining the Square Mile” competition was judged by a panel of architectural and design experts chaired by Benjamin O’Connor, Director, NLA. The judging panel included: Clarisse Tavin, Group Manager Major Programmes and Projects, City of London; Eddie Blake, Director, Studio Weave; Harriet Browning, Associate, Civic Engineers; Paolo Mendoza, Landscaping and Urban Design Consultant, Arcadis; Hannah Penwarden, Student Representative, London Metropolitan University.

The winning team will now work closely with the City of London BIDs to further develop their vision, with more details to be revealed in due course.

Meet the design team


ERA SAVVIDES is a Partner at URBAN RADICALS. She comes from Cyprus, and was trained as an architect at the UCL. Era is experienced working across complex architectural and public realm schemes. Her design philosophy centres around a material-based, conscious, and circular approach to design and making, which she explores through projects furthering into community-based and collaborative practices. Throughout her career Era has been actively involved in academia. She is currently a permanent researcher and lecturer at the University of Westminster.

NASIOS VARNAVAS is a Partner at URBAN RADICALS. He is Cypriot, with a professional experience that varies from working in Tokyo at Kengo Kuma, to Vienna at Coop Himmelb(l)au, to London for Heatherwick Studio and for Prof. Will Alsop with whom he worked side by side, as a lead designer as well as a painter for exhibitions. These helped Nasios develop a passion for working with people and communities, seeing how public consultation and design could be done and communicated differently, and establishing an ethos of operating with agency and openness. Nasios is an experienced educator and researcher, currently teaching at the Bartlett UCL and the University of Westminster.

ADAM HARRIS is a project manager and designer at MILLIMETRE and will project manage the collaboration. As part of the design working group, he will also provide early-stage design input relating to fabrication, construction and installation. Adam is also an experienced landscape architect and will advise on possible greening strategies and systems.

EDOARDO TIBUZZI is a director at AKTII engineers. Edoardo specialises in 3D design and research and leads AKT II’s computational research team in London. During his time at the Civil Engineering Faculty

of Rome II University, Edoardo’s focus was initially on structural repair and refurbishment. After university, he developed a profound interest in interoperable modelling, multi-scale modelling of structures and design optimisation. In terms of academia, Edoardo has also been involved in several collaborations with KTH University in Stockholm, and Tor Vergata University in Rome, where he ran various lectures and workshops.

Notes to editors

Images available here

PR contact:

Bettina Gimenez, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, Primera, bettina@primera-corp.co.uk

About Urban Radicals

Urban Radicals is a collaborative studio that designs objects, rooms, architectures and landscapes.

UR started out in 2019 as a duo between architects Era Savvides and Nasios Varnavas, and is now an expansive network between friends, colleagues and expert collaborators, solving design problems across contexts and scales.

UR was selected to curate and design the Cyprus Pavilion National Participation at the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice 2021, and has been named as one of the Best New Architecture Practices for 2021 by Archdaily, as well as being selected to be one of six Young Architects in Residence at the Architecture Foundation London for 2021-22.

In addition to practice, UR teaches architectural design at UCL for the MArch Architecture RIBA II programme and at Westminster for the BA(Hons)Architecture RIBA I programme.

About Aldgate Connect

Aldgate Connect straddles two boroughs – the City of London and Tower Hamlets – and works with both to champion the local area.

In April 2020, following the success of the Aldgate Partnership, the local business community voted to establish a formal Business Improvement District (BID) in Aldgate.

Through mandatory business levies and voluntary contributions, the BID will raise £3.9m over its first five-year term, which will be directly reinvested into projects that will enhance the area and deliver for the local community and turn Aldgate into a better place to live, work and visit.


About the Culture Mile BID

The Culture Mile is the fifth and latest BID to be created in the City of London, having launched in April 2023.

The Culture Mile BID represents the area stretching from Farringdon in the west to Finsbury Circus in the east. Brimming with cultural creativity, commercial vibrancy and a strong sense of community, the area is home to globally famed institutions such as the Barbican Centre and the future London Museum, as well as hidden gems including St Bartholomew The Great, London’s oldest surviving church, and some of the last surviving sections of the 2,000 years old wall that once surrounded the City of London.

Through its work, the Culture Mile BID will inject £9m into the local area over the next five years, working in partnership with its levy-paying member businesses as well as the public sector to deliver a range of ambitious projects including major public realm enhancements, agenda-setting green and climate resilience initiatives and high-profile destination marketing campaigns.


About the Eastern City BID

Home to one of the most iconic parts of the City's, the Eastern City merges cutting-edge architecture with historical landmarks.

The Eastern City is a globally recognised economic district complemented by a rich historic and cultural heritage – it’s a place 2,000 years in the making, where London originated and which, over the years, has continually evolved to become a prestigious commercial location.

Through collaborative working with partners including the City of London Corporation, Transport for London, the Greater London Authority and our leading and innovative business community, ranging from corporate businesses to hospitality and leisure, we work to deliver a range of programmes and transformative interventions that will promote this unique area as a destination in its own right.


About Fleet Street Quarter

Known as the home of British journalism, Fleet Street Quarter runs from the Royal Courts of Justice in the west to Ludgate Hill in the east.

Established in February 2022, FSQ embraces fascinating areas such as Chancery Lane, Holborn, Ludgate Hill and New Street Square.  Set amongst a backdrop of beautiful architecture, the area is home to a whole host of iconic cultural locations, hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés, including St. Bride’s Church, Dr. Johnson’s House, London’s Silver Vaults and the City of London Gin Distillery.

The area is almost famous for its pubs, including Editor’s Tap, Old Bell Tavern, Old Bank of England and one of London’s oldest, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, many of which have been known to be frequented by literary geniuses such as Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr Samuel Johnson, creator of the first English Dictionary.


About London Festival of Architecture

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) is a month-long celebration of architecture and city-making, taking place every June across London. Now in its 20th year, LFA’s mission is to open discussions around architecture, test new ideas and promote emerging talent. LFA brings together the public and built environment professionals for the whole month of June and seeks to inspire and engage our audience with a programme that showcases London as a global architecture hub. LFA is run by NLA, London’s built environment community.



About Primera

Primera is a London-based consultancy specialising in placemaking through public/private partnerships.

Operating a dozen business improvement districts in some of the most high-profile neighbourhoods of the capital, such as Westminster, Harley Street and the City of London, Primera represents more than 3,000 levy-paying London businesses, from major tourist attractions and global companies to SMEs and charities, as well as over 1m employees. Each BID has its own dedicated team in charge of delivering the business plan which member businesses voted on, with priorities often including safety, cleanliness, ESG, B2C and B2B destination marketing and public affairs representation. The work of the BIDs includes:

  • Collaborating with their member businesses to amplify their efforts, whether through networking, communications or business support
  • Delivering their own activities such as, on the B2B side, commissioning reports and representing the area at corporate events which highlight their districts, to, on the B2C side, leading on events such as Christmas lights, public realm projects etc