Paleys upon Pilers marks the spot of Aldgate and its distinguished literary resident, Geoffrey Chaucer. The project forms part of the core programme for the London Architecture Festival 2012. A gate into the City of London existed in this location from Roman times until 1761 and the site remains a strategic position in London today, marking the beginning of High Street 2012, which leads to the Olympic Park. The Paleys remembers the historic easternmost gateway and signals the change taking place in this area over the next decade.
The design is inspired by the two dream poems written by Chaucer while resident in the rooms above the gate from 1374 to 1386. ‘The House of Fame’ and ‘The Parliament of Fowls’ both include images of fantastic dream-like temples of impossible materials and scale, elevated on precarious, precious structures above vast, bizarre landscapes conceivable as analogies for the City.
Paleys upon Pilers is an abstraction of the uppermost room of the old gate and an invocation of Chaucer’s luxurious dreamed temples. The structure consists of a kind of timber embroidery and will sit in the air above the busy Aldgate High Street, supported on pillars decorated with images from Chaucer’s illuminated manuscripts.