The Power of Norwood High Street

Lambeth, London

Type: Digital month-long consultation
Client: London Festival of Architecture
Status: June 2020
Pilot project: A Co-working space
Collaboration: Station to Station, the West Norwood & Tulse Hill Business Improvement District
Publication: High Street Task Force

Through landscape tactics, how can we adapt a busy carriageway into a place where local people want to walk; where cars drive slowly; where bicycles are championed; and where the pavement is activated? By focusing on these three areas we can test the resilience of the high street by re-imagining how its buildings can change use.  What is a public square today? Is it a playground? Is it where young people hang out? Is it a community venue? Is it for relaxation or productivity? Is it an experience?

Landscape Webinar

What did we do:
We invited Ed Wall to talk to us about ‘High Streets, Lowlands’. Ed is the leader of Academic Leader Landscape at the University of Greenwich and Visiting Professor at Politecnico di Milano (DiAP) but more importantly, he is an inspiring voice that will always approach landscape architecture from the most unexpected angle.

Key Recommendations

1. Landscape is not confined to outdoor spaces. It is about recognising the relationships between people and the world around them
2. High streets can be understood as landscapes; as a group of socio-economic spatial things
3. High streets don’t have to be thought of as landscapes. They are places where a different people can do different things in a fully accessible way.
4. Changing perceptions doesn’t require major investment. Low-budget landscape projects can have a long impact: for example, what happens if you close Norwood High street on. Saturday and hold a street party?
5. The creative occupation of space is the most effective way to change the way we perceive landscape

Workshop for Secondary School Children

What did we do:
We led a workshop on SketchUp to students from local Elmgreen School to enable them to work on 3D modelling through a free and easy to use the software. They learnt basic model-making and explored ‘blue-sky-thinking’ ideas of what a public space should or could be. Then we asked them to reimagine the Knight Hills Public Square and design their ideal public space.


Workshop for Residents with Learning Difficulties

What did we do:
L’Arche is a registered charity that offers high quality, person-centred support for adults with learning disabilities. Reflecting the diversity, uniqueness and differing needs of each person, some individuals are supported in their own homes for a few hours per week, while others are supported twenty-four hours a day in our assisted living services.  One of  L’Arche’s eleven centres across the UK is located 9-13 Norwood High Street and they held a virtual workshop as part of this consultation.
Adults with learning difficulties from the L’Arche centre participated in the consultation. L’Arche sent craft packs to their community with the high street drawings prepared by A Small Studio and an arts & crafts parcel. The adults were able to join a remote workshop and draw/collage their ideas as the L’Arche leaders helped with key prompts such as: What would you like to see in Knight’s Hill Square? What can you do in this public square?  What are your ideas for a better square in the high street?
They proposed a wide range of ideas including an ice cream van, cinema, burger stall, cake stall, workshop space, birds, museum, dancing area, swimming pool, ride simulator.