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Competition: Croydon iStreet, London

Croydon Council has joined forces with AR’s sister title, The Architects’ Journal to launch Croydon iStreet, an  international contest to design an interactive streetscape of the future (Deadline: 26 May)

Open to everyone, the competition seeks innovative technology-led proposals to transform the public realm within the major south London town centre which is tipped for £5.25 billion-worth of regeneration funding.

Proposals for the commission – which has a £2 million guide budget – should enhance the area’s challenging post-war streetscape, upgrade pedestrian movement and wayfinding, and simultaneously provide visitors with information about upcoming local events.

Croydon

Croydon

Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning and the council’s deputy leader, said: ‘Croydon is undergoing significant change in the next few years as development and regeneration activity intensifies.

‘We are really excited to commission this competition to help people navigate around the constantly changing streetscape, which we hope will lead to a practical, beautiful and original product that embraces innovative technology and can then be implemented in Croydon and beyond.’

The contest forms part of the borough’s £350 million Growth Zone programme, which is being delivered with the Mayor of London and is made up of 39 key projects, including transport, schools and community infrastructure, regeneration and public realm improvements, and support for small businesses.

Croydon was rebuilt following the Second World War and is renowned for its Modernist concrete highways, towering offices and multistorey car parks. Now it is once again reinventing itself.

Croydon

Croydon

Source: RIBA Library and Photographs Collection

Croydon in 1969 - the Anglo-Saxon ‘Crocus Valley’ was rebuilt as England’s Manhattan following heavy bombing in the Second World War

Ten years after Will Alsop first revealed his vision to transform Croydon into London’s ‘third city’ (after Westminster and the Square Mile) the council has harnessed a raft of architectural talent in a series of mini-masterplans and public realm initiatives intended to unleash the area’s potential, and create a new starting point after the upheaval of the 2011 London riots.

Leading practices working directly for the council on these commissions include Studio Egret West, Make, Allies and Morrison, East and, at a smaller scale, Studio Weave, Jan Kattien Architect, Assemble and OKRA.

Pitman Tozer, Mikhail Riches, Stitch, Mae, vPPR, Coffey Architects and HTA have meanwhile been hired by the council’s private development company, Brick by Brick, to deliver hundreds of new homes on council-owned sites across Croydon.

Major developments under way include the £500 million Ruskin Square regeneration by AHMM with ShedKM, a  £1.4 billion Westfield shopping centre by Allies and Morrison, and a cultural quarter by Rick Mather Architects.

Recently completed projects include a new £3 million ‘Box Park’ food court by BDP next to East Croydon Station, a £4.5 million bus station by TfL’s in-house architects, and Rolfe Judd’s 43-storey Saffron Square skyscraper nearby.

Croydon route map

Croydon route map

1. West Croydon Station 2. Station Road – looking north down London Road 3. North End at junction with Poplar Street – looking south 4. North End – looking south to Centrale shopping centre (right) 5. North End – Whitgift shopping centre 6. North End – looking south to almshouse (left) 7. George Street – left turn from North End 8. George Street – tram stop looking east 9. Park Lane – viewed from George Street/Wellesley Road junction 10. Park Lane – view south 11. Park Lane – view south. College Road on left 12. Park Lane – Croydon College 13. Fairfield Halls

The latest competition focuses on a key pedestrian route leading from West Croydon station to the 1962 Fairfield Halls and taking in North End, George Street and Park Lane.

Landmarks along the route include the Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centre, the Grade I-listed Whitgift Almshouses, Nestlé’s abandoned Ronald Ward-designed former headquarters and the Art Deco Grade II-listed Segas House.

Proposals should be workable, cost-effective and promote physical interaction with the chosen streets. Submissions must include a 700-word description and a single A3-sized image. Finalists will be asked to developer their concepts further.

Collaborations between teams of architects, graphic designers, lighting experts, wayfinding experts, technology and software companies, urban planners, product manufacturers, street furniture designers, acousticians, accessibility experts and artists are encouraged.

Competition judges include AHMM director Simon Allford, BBC journalist Razia Iqbal, Croydon chief executive Jo Negrini; the deputy leader of Croydon Council and the borough’s cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, Alison Butler; Dan Hill, global digital studio leader at Arup; Sarah Luxford, director at Nexec Leaders; and AJ news editor Richard Waite.

Shortlisted teams will receive £2,000 each to participate in the competition’s second stage, while the winning project will have the opportunity to be developed into a fully functional scheme rolled out across Croydon.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 26 May

Contact details

Suzanne Flannery
Event manager

Tel: +44 (0)20 3033 4241
Email: suzanne.flannery@emap.com 

View the competition website for more information

The Beacons case study: Q&A with Gabby Shawcross

The director of Studio of Cinematic Architecture discusses lessons learned designing an interactive artwork for the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester, England

How did the Beacons project create an innovative and interactive public realm in St Peter’s Square ?

The sculpture engages shoppers and activates the public realm with dynamic light and moving imagery. Seven tall video totems and four benches create a meeting place and a focal point for the public and the city. The digital surface illuminates the streetscape with generative ambient animation that responds in real time to local weather and passers-by. It doubles as a canvas for the city with seasonal take-overs by local artists, performers and community groups and specially commissioned artworks for cultural events in the calendar.

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects

Which architectural, digital, material and other methods did you harness in your design process?

Collaborating with Levitate, we combined architectural, interactive art and filmmaking techniques in the design process. Film surveys and sight-line analysis informed the position, orientation and scale of the structure, while the material and digital characteristics were developed through interactive workshops, projection models and technological prototypes. These methods tested our concepts and engaged stakeholders in the process.

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects

What advice would you have to contest participants on creating an interactive public realm for Croydon?

An interactive streetscape will need to be connected to local people to be well-loved and locally relevant. It will need to be looked after by, and respond to the community in Croydon. I would consider integrating simple, robust and discreet technologies to enrich our everyday enjoyment of the public realm, and would think about different time scales of interaction to illicit delight in the short term and somehow continue to engage in the future.

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects

The Beacons by Studio of Cinematic Architecture and Levitate Architects