Silvertown Way

Canning Town

Client:

London Development Agency

Principal stakeholders:

Newham Council
Design for London
Community Links

Summary:

Plan Projects was appointed to work up a public realm strategy for the temporary use of a large area of derelict open space close to the centre of Canning Town. We put forward a design solution that creates a ‘stage’ for a series of mutually reinforcing cultural uses, entitled ‘Playscape,’ that combine commercial viability, value to the local community and relevance to both the regeneration aims of the area and the eventual redevelopment of the site. These uses included urban farming, a BMX park, street food and a hard standing space for the community and corporate performance and event activities.

Context:

Canning Town’s ambitious master-plan foresees the transformation of the area into a functional town centre; central to this is healing the divisions caused by the massive infrastructure that has been driven through it. Key to Plan Projects approach was to understand how the project could be relevant to this process of urban mending.

Heavy duty infrastructure and a domination of the public realm by motorised traffic undermines how a place functions at a human scale. For us, the project was therefore principally about shifting the balance back in favour of the pedestrian and providing something the community would value in their neighbourhood.

Community:

Understanding how the site could work for the local community was central to our vision. At an early stage, we sought to work in collaboration with Community Links and Peacocks Gym, both organisations local to the area. Leaders at these organisations provided guidance as to the community’s key needs and how local people could get involved with the project and how this involvement could strengthen it. The detailed community engagement programme included as part of the business plan for the project expressed how the community would be able to help mould and develop events, how capacity could be built through mentoring, apprentice schemes and training days and how a community panel could enrich the process of evaluation.

Vision:

The public realm strategy sought to create an attractive, people friendly area of public open space where previously there stood an area of brown field land, awaiting development. The works would provide the ‘static’ facilities that would enable the ‘kinetic’ uses to take place in the space. Working together, these attributes would promote social interaction, play and sustainable transport modes. In so doing, it would contribute to the restoration of Canning Town as a functioning town centre.