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Emerging duo wins Shoreditch public realm and retail contest

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Emerging design collective Tomos Design + Studio Yu has won a contest for innovative ideas to revolutionise public realm and retail along Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, east London

The collaboration – founded just last year – was chosen ahead or rival bids by Londoners Anna Janiak Studio and Spacehub, and a bid by Lithuanian sole practitioner Žilvinas Stasiuleviius. A joint bid by artist Martin Richman, EPR Architects and Waymap completed the shortlist.

The appointment comes just months after the same duo, working with Compendium, won a contest for a public realm intervention on the banks of the Grand Union Canal beneath the Westway. All three firms were chosen for a £75,000 community space in Thornton Heath, south London in February.

The competition, organised by design agency Khaa on behalf of onRedchurch – a partnership of local businesses, residents and landlords – sought bold ideas that rethink the relationship between retail technology and the public realm, and which can revitalise the historic shopping street close to Shoreditch High Street station.

It aims to future-proof the road, which has seen big changes in recent decades and is now a hub for boutique fashion stores. Plans were lodged in July for 500 homes and 130,000m² of workspace at nearby Bishopsgate Goodsyard.

The winning scheme will provide a series of spaces for local people to meet, relax and help green the street. These include new micro-shops for independent artists inspired by the road’s history of industry and creativity. A new app and solar charging points were also included in the proposal.

Redchurch Street connects Shoreditch High Street to Brick Lane, and features a mix of stores, small businesses, pubs and nightclubs. During the 1990s it was home to The Shop – an acclaimed pop-up gallery by artists Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas.

Despite its close proximity to London’s busy financial core, the road suffers from vandalism, graffiti, burglaries and antisocial behaviour. The ideas contest sought ideas to enhance the success of Redchurch Street while also improving its resilience.

In 2017, vPPR and design agency Twelve Studio won an ideas contest seeking innovative, technology-led solutions to upgrade pedestrian movement and wayfinding through Croydon’s post-war streetscape.

The five finalist teams each received £1,000 to participate in the second phase of the competition. The overall winner will now be invited to work with local stakeholders as ‘curator’ of Redchurch Street.

Winner: Common Rooms, by Tomos Design + Studio Yu

Winner: Common Rooms, by Tomos Design + Studio Yu

Winner: Common Rooms, by Tomos Design + Studio Yu

Judges included architect and Bartlett honorary emeritus professor Peter Cook, community engagement specialist Daisy Froud, and Shoreditch Design Triangle co-ordinator Freya Coakely.

Froud said: ‘While many of the proposals included a “community engagement” aspect, what stood out in the Common Rooms scheme was the way in which working with local residents and traders – both to take decisions, and to design and manufacture aspects of the evolving place – was right at the heart of the scheme.

‘The team had a clear and convincing methodology for this and brought experience of working in similar ways elsewhere. They had also given careful thought to the specific different communities of the Redchurch Street area and their needs, including possible barriers and participation, and how they might work to build relationships and to bring potentially diverse voices into the process.’

Froud continued: ‘At interview they demonstrated a lovely balance of clear enjoyment and confidence in designing and making things themselves, including mobile street furniture to support engagement conversations, with a genuine enthusiasm to opening the conversation up to others and learning from and with them.’

Cook said: ‘These two guys have a combination of useable ideas and a genuine response to real people in real communities.’

David Barrie of onRedchurch commented: ‘With this appointment, onRedchurch looks forward to the next stage of its life: moving forward to enabling a new future for one of London’s most important, vigorous, and creative streets. Looking forward to embracing the community in its work.’

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