WINNER BD Architect of the Year Awards 2017, Wandsworth Design Award 2015 Master Planning & Public Realm

Balham High Road

Balham, London

To help stimulate economic and environmental regeneration in Balham’s town centre, we developed an urban design strategy for Balham High Road, in south London. Won in a competition staged by Wandsworth Council and The Balham Partnership, and supported by the Mayor of London, the scheme comprises four projects – enhancing the railway bridge environment to increase footfall and unlock the potential of the areas adjacent to it; public realm improvements to Hildreth Street to make it a vibrant market and café strip; public realm improvements to Balham Community Space; and a creative solution to the ‘Ugly Wall’ – a prominent but unattractive flank wall that has huge potential to help link together Balham’s public spaces, promote Balham’s identity and encourage visitors to explore Balham.

The scheme has an overriding material and art strategy which links all the projects together helping to enhance Balham’s identity.

Team: Tod Hanson (Artist) / Modus Operandi (Arts Consultant) / Alan Baxters Associates (Structures, Highways, Civil) / Spiers and Major (Lighting) / Lindsey Whitelaw (Soft Landscape) / WT Partnership (Cost Consultant) / Urban Space Management (Street Market Consultant)

Collaborators: Tod Hanson

"The project transformed the spaces involved. Hildreth Street is now a vibrant, thriving street where the shop units are very much in demand, a big change from the high vacancy rate which previously prevailed."

Lorinda Freint, LB Wandsworth

Working with an Artist. A design strategy links the four projects using a common approach to materiality and public art. It was generated using a consultation process and site analysis to create something unique to Balham. London-based artist Tod Hanson was appointed using a shortlisting process managed by Modus Operandi. The brief encouraged site-specificity and an interrelationship with the communities and residents of Balham as key principles.

Green faience tiling, a material familiar from its use on London Underground, and in particular the Northern Line on which Balham sits, was chosen as a key linking material. The depth and richness of colour in the glaze brings an opulence and tactile quality – which is unexpected, bringing an element of ‘delight’ to the town centre.