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Stratford

2009-2012

We’ve celebrated the special moments and historic significance of the town centre, forged connections between new and old, and re-invigorated the public realm.

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We’ve celebrated the special moments and historic significance of the town centre, forged connections between new and old, and re-invigorated the public realm.
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Strategy

The early years of the twenty-first century were a time of intense change for Stratford in east London. The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games would be just down the road, and the town centre was in need of an overhaul. In August 2009 we were appointed by the London Borough of Newham and the Stratford Renaissance Partnership as lead consultants, urban designers and landscape architects to design and deliver £13.5million of high-quality public realm.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
London Borough of Newham
Stratford Renaissance Partnership
Role:
Urban Designer
Status:
Completed 2012
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The site area included the whole of the town centre

The original brief was to offer a unique visitor experience in time for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but our work was about much more than this. It was about creating a considered, coherent and distinctive place, about fundamentally changing the way Stratford is perceived, and about establishing a ‘sense of arrival’ for the town.

There were plenty of challenges, including infrastructural barriers, outdated facilities and high volumes of traffic. A complex land ownership structure meant that public sites overlapped or interfaced with multiple other infrastructural, architectural and public-realm projects. It was crucial to establish a close working relationship with all landowners and project teams through continuous and transparent dialogue.

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Engagement events
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Engagement events
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Specificity

We expanded Meridian Square and made it a fitting gateway to the town, with a more spatially efficient bus station, a relocated taxi facility, a new cycle hub, and numerous pavement and crossing upgrades. A short walk from Stratford Station and Stratford International, it now knits together this multi-modal interchange with both the existing town centre and the new Westfield shopping centre.

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We brought a sense of coherence to the town centre by redesigning various elements of the public realm: Theatre Square at the heart of the cultural quarter, the Railway Tree crossing that connects with Stratford High Street and the new DLR station, the historically interesting Broadway, The Grove with its relocated market place, and Maryland Station to the north. All of these interventions improve connectivity and movement across the town centre, as well as between the town centre and the new Olympic neighbourhoods.

But the most memorable element of our scheme is without doubt The Shoal. This 250-metre-long vertical sculpture made of naturally coloured titanium was designed to obscure the view of a multi-storey car park and improve the public spaces around the existing 1970s Stratford Centre. It has since become one of Stratford’s defining features and a key part of our reinvention of the town centre.

Sustainability

There had been years of speculation about the removal of the Stratford gyratory area. We accepted that this was unlikely to happen soon and instead looked to resolve the difficulties of having heavy traffic alongside a busy pedestrian environment. Without any change to the traffic system, we accepted the town centre as an island – not a remote island, but instead an island with many positive connotations: a destination, a getaway, a place apart. The key was to facilitate movement across the town centre, and to create a sense of excitement and drama that invites people in.

Stratford SEW
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Our work began a significant value-adding process of transformation for the area. We’ve brought about moments of pride and delight to a forgotten part of London that risked falling in the shadow of the Olympics. We’ve celebrated the special moments and historic significance of the town centre, forged connections between new and old, and re-invigorated the public realm. We’ve brought Stratford into the twenty-first century and laid the foundations for the radical changes still to come.

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