client: Lendlease Elephant Park, landscape architect: BD Landscape Architects, lighting design: Michael Grubb Studio, structural engineer: engineersHRW, mechanical engineer: Buro Happold contractor: Lendlease construction
Lendlease appointed Jan Kattein Architects, BD Landscape Architects and lighting designer Michael Grubb Associates with the unusual challenge to design 1/2 a high street. On a strip of land, only 4m wide and 100m long, the design was to encompass all that represents the social life of some of London’s best loved public spaces. Whilst works on a permanent building are progressing behind a construction hoarding, the project is to complement a carefully curated food and beverage offer that recently opened on the opposite retail parade.
The design team found themselves confronted with some of the questions that disconcert economists, politicians, retailers and academics across the nation. Questions like ‘How does the emergence of the experience economy re-define activities on the high street?’ and ‘What role can architecture and design play in the future-proofing of a key civic space that significantly defines people’s sense of belonging in the city?’ have guided our design response.
The proposal takes the form of a linear folly. Playful canopees alternate with event decking, micro parks, seating nooks and three workspace shacks aimed at creative practitioners. Our interpretation encompasses all that’s pleasurable about walking in the city; providing reason to wonder, a vantage point for watching life go bye and opportunities to meet. The cycles of activities in the city have moulded a series of spaces that transform as they are animated by people, events and with the change of the weather and the seasons. Sunlight hitting, transluscent screens tint surfaces and the space lighting concept hightens the experience of the street at dusk and in the evening.
Sustainability has guided our design decisions. Greening is not just decorative, it is an integral part of the spatial experience of the street. Re-usable scaffolding is the basis for all the superstructure and the three workspace shacks are made off-site and can be disassembeld and re-deployed as part of a future meanwhile project or donated to a school or community group when the structure is disassembled to make room for the permanent building in 3 years’ time.
Planning permission was granted by Southwark Council on in January 2020 and works on site were completed in September 2020. Community radio station Run Dem Radio, flower shop The Nunhead Gardener and Flat 70 Gallery have recently moved into the work spaces on site.