Bethnal Green Road – High Street and Urban Realm Improvement Programme
Working for the Borough of Tower Hamlets, we are undertaking a series of connected projects along and around east London’s Bethnal Green Road. Our proposals encompasses a strategic feasibility work, architectural, landscape and graphic design, and stakeholder engagement and consultation.
Shopfront Improvement Programme
As part of the borough’s high street regeneration programme, we were commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council to provide a strategy for shopfront improvements along the length of the street and town centre. Following a detailed study of Bethnal Green Road in which we assessed building location, impact, need and cost, we set out a strategic plan for shopfront selection and works.
Our proposals sought to deliver on a number of key tenets. We looked to maximise the visual appeal of the shopfronts without homogenising the streetscape or losing the distinct character of each individual shop; to help existing local businesses benefit from the borough’s sharp population growth and investment; and to ensure improvement works would provide value for money for the borough, its tenants, and its landlords. To guarantee our improvements will be long-lasting, our designs make use of hardwearing materials that are easy to maintain, and crucially – will only be delivered with full tenant support, ownership and empowerment in mind – each proposal aligning to the needs and values of the individual shopkeeper.
Urban Realm Renewal and Decluttering
Building on our work on the Shopfront Improvement Programme, we extended our feasibility study of Bethnal Green Road to explore opportunities for the decluttering of the street’s footway and the addition of secure cycle routes, street furniture, greening and artworks. We began by taking a detailed site survey of the street’s furniture, trees, crossings, kerbs, junctions and green space. Once the existing landscape was mapped, we applied the Council’s brief to our studied vision for public urban space, captured in a series of sketches and graphic representations presented to Tower Hamlets Council.
Bethnal Green Railway Bridge
As a result of our urban strategy for the area, we highlighted the opportunity to recondition the railway bridge crossing the eastern end of Bethnal Green Road. Commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council and working alongside the local Luminor Sign Co., we outlined the repair, repainting and cleaning of the bridge, and the improvement of its lighting and nighttime safety.
Our proposals looked to create an understated landmark welcoming people to the area, speaking to the history of Bethnal Green through the etymological turns of its name. Once marshy forest land on which a sleepy hamlet developed, the area’s first recorded names of Blithehale and Blythenhale offer the translation ‘happy corner’. Passing through both Blethenal Green and Bethan Hall Green, the local accent led to the pronunciation’s arrival at Bethnal Green. The graphic treatments retain the green and cream colours emblematic of both traditional railway bridges and the area itself, while the industrial, drop-shadowed lettering style references the iconic font of the underground rail system synonymous with London. Together, these designs offer a new, bold and singular identity for Bethnal Green, rooted in the area’s history.