The local authority, the London Borough of Lambeth, wanted to encourage more commercial investment in Brixton: one of London’s most dynamic but historically troubled centres. We were charged with crafting the design element of an investment strategy aimed at preserving the unique character of the area, invigorating its failed backwaters and expanding the boundaries for viable commercial development.
How the area functioned was not obvious, so we undertook a series of pedestrian modelling studies and focused on the area’s numerous dangerous spaces. Some of these spaces, particularly those around the railway station, were not used very much except for drug dealing and assault. On the other hand, the High Street was overcrowded, forcing pedestrians to walk in the busy roadway and leap safety barriers to cross the road.
The models quickly revealed that the area’s problems were greatly influenced by the highly fragmented nature of the town centre, with few direct routes other than along the High Street. Our plan to unlock the area’s investment potential was based on distributing pedestrian movement more evenly throughout the town centre. This involved creating a series of new pedestrian linkages by opening up the railway arches near the station and generally relieving pressure on the High Street by removing metal barriers and widening footways.
We have delivered both a diagnosis of the current problem and a vision for the transformation of Brixton town centre. Our work has focused investment thinking and encouraged regeneration planning.