The plans for Gasholder 8 are much simpler than those that won the design competition in 2009 (reported here) for reasons of economy and flexibility of use. If suitably modified they could allow the original function of the gasholder to be expressed clearly.
A central grass lawn, 25 metres across, is surrounded by a circular walkway rather like a pergola. This is constructed of stainless steel sheets, mirror polished in their upper parts (which could confuse the partially sighted). The walkway is some distance inwards from the gasholder guide frame.
Everything is laid out at the same level as the bases of the cast iron columns, and level with the ground at the side furthest from the canal; externally the ground level slopes down about 1.5 metres towards the towpath. Facing the canal there are stone paved seating areas stepping down as at Granary Square. Between the columns, except where there are steps, the proposal has large planting beds. These deny the essential geometry of the gasholder tank (by imposing a radial division on the space) and might partly obscure the bases of the columns.
The gasholder guide frame had an essential relationship in the original structure to the circular brick tank. This was set in the ground and filled with water; within it the gasholder bell rested at ground level when empty of gas but rose upwards, guided by the columns, when gas entered. As this is a rare example of the preservation of a gasholder guide frame, it should not be divorced from its original context. The most important element was the circular inner edge of the tank, immediately inwards from the bases of the columns and separated from the bell by a narrow strip of water. This should be expressed, at least over an illustrative part of the circumference, by a continuous ring of paving representing the top of the tank wall, while the edge would best be shown with contrasting paving in relief. The radial arrangement of walls dividing the planting beds is contrary to this.
Malcolm Tucker followed this up on behalf of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) with an explanatory report, Gasholder No. 8, Acknowledging its Historical Form. available here. Argent has not adopted the recommendations of that report, except for including a strip of contrasting material where the radial paving crosses the line of the tank edge. However, Argent is adopting the suggestion of displaying alongside the gasholder the pump that was used to drain the “dry well” .