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We Made That wins Harlesden Canalside contest

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We Made That has been named as part of the winning team in a contest to co-design a £1.2 million waterside recreational, work or leisure facility on the Grand Union Canal in Harlesden

The practice – working with project lead and workspace operator 3Space and also featuring PRD – defeated an undisclosed shortlist to win the estimated £120,000-150,000 contract tendered by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation earlier this year.

We Made That will now work with the area’s itinerant boat dwelling community and other stakeholders to draw up plans for a potential new repair centre and public realm or other community space on a stretch of canal in north-west London.

The five-year project, supported by Brent Council and the Canal and River Trust, aims to create a flagship facility where boat dwellers, local residents and workers, and other users of the towpath can potentially fix a range of items including their boats and bicycles or carry out other community activities. 

Potential options for the site include a workshop for boaters, a canoe club base, a community hub and outdoor café or market space.

We Made That associate Nisha Kurian said: ‘The Grand Union Canal running through this stretch of Harlesden and Park Royal could and should be an amazing asset for the local community, but it’s severely underused at the moment.

‘We had identified the opportunity to activate and reanimate this key access point to the canal in our wider masterplanning work for Park Royal Centre in 2018 and we’re thrilled to see the investment and backing from the OPDC and Mayor of London to bring these proposals to fruition. We’re looking forward to getting back on the ground and working together with the local community to test new uses and develop proposals to transform Harlesden Canalside into a thriving community hub.’

Andrew Cribb, chief executive of 3Space said: ‘This project presents a unique opportunity to integrate land and water based activities to create a new destination for boaters and canalside users in north west London. We’re delighted as an operator to have this opportunity.

‘Our aim, as with all our projects, will be to support diverse and experimental uses – what we believe are the hallmarks of great cities like London. We can’t wait to get started and we encourage new businesses and those of you with ideas for canal-based activities to reach out to us and get involved in the project.’

OPDC chief executive David Lunts said: ‘Public outdoor space in London is more precious than ever and our plans will encourage more people from Harlesden and beyond to enjoy the canal. Although we’ve been championing the benefits of the canal long before Covid-19, this project will help aid the area’s recovery by securing a greener safer community space supporting home-grown business and giving the local economy an added boost.’

The OPDC was founded by the Mayor of London four years ago to promote regeneration of the area, which would be served by the HS2 rail link. A design team led by AECOM with Asif Khan, BIG, Maccreanor Lavington and WilkinsonEyre was appointed in 2017 to masterplan the huge former industrial site.

In December, the OPDC launched a search for an economic viability team for a new start-up centre for smaller businesses inside a former workhouse refectory next to Central Middlesex Hospital, which will form the centre of a new residential-led development by Network Homes.

The latest project aims to enhance the canal as an amenity for everyone, support the local boating community, and provide new social infrastructure to tackle a range of wider challenges including income deprivation, health and wellbeing, loneliness, and inter-generational divide.

The winning team will work with the OPDC and local stakeholders to draw up plans for the new facility, which will open in 2021 and run for five years.

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