In September 2019 I traveled to London as part of an Urban Design Studio. The site in question was left open for students to select, but was generally focused on Brixton, a neighborhood in South London (Google Maps). The neighborhood is an historically Black community which dates back to the post-war era, when large numbers of Afro-Carribean people immigrated to fill the void in the service sectors that was left after so many died in the war. Read more about the "Windrush Generation" and the scandal that accompanied the attempt to revoke their citizenship on Wikipedia.
In the last few years, development pressure has eroded the heart of the community in a place known colloquially as the "arches," where low cost rents at one time could be found underneath the rail lines. When Network Rail sold the ground rights to a developer, many long term tenants were forced out, never to return. You can get a sense of the fight on the front lines from the Brixton Buzz. This problem is not confined to Brixton, either, as Network Rail might sell off as many as 4,500 occupied "arches" across the UK (The Guardian).
The master plan below proposes a strategy to relieve the economic pressure in the core business district of Brixton by providing much needed retail, office, and residential square footage. The plan seeks to take advantage of a linear park known as "Rush Common" which terminates just south of the Arches district. Currently, Rush Common is discontinuous and chopped into various public and private parcels, but it is still protected by an historical covenant that prohibits development. By returning this asset completely to the public realm it can be programmed it as a pedestrian circulation network, including a "cycle super highway" to link in with the rest of London's bicycle network. When these efforts are combined with traffic calming efforts along Brixton Hill Road (a road diet with phased reduction in types of vehicle usage), there is the possibility for a synergetic relationship between the park and the commercial corridor, each serving the other.
Click on any image below to view the master plan in high resolution, as a JPEG (13mb), or a PDF (17mb).
Brixton Boulevard Strategic Overview:
SITE PHOTOS: Taken north to south along Brixton Hill Road, beginning near Brixton Station (Victoria Line) and ending at the intersection of A-205 / Christchurch Road.
Except where noted, all work show here was made by Henry Rose in completion of the requirements of the "London Studio" at University of Texas Austin School of Architecture.