Assemble were appointed as designers- in-residence for a £516,000 public realm improvement project in New Addington, Croydon. The project re-activated an empty and underused town square, by building on the extraordinary wealth of local community activites and events.

We began the project with both a rigorous study of existing physical constraints and comprehensive engagement in order to map local activities and assets. We then used an initial programme of events to test pragmatic and inventive design solutions at 1:1 with the involvement of local stakeholders. This included negotiating complex level changes by building a temporary stage for the Tea-dances from the community centre; improving pedestrian access by reorganizing the market; and tackling existing prejudices by explicitly making spaces for children and young people. Through a process of consultation through action, Assemble were able to determine public opinion, challenge assumed social prejudices and catalyze support for an ambitious scheme in an extremely short timeframe.

Based on the proven success of the prototype events, the capital works include: a level crossing between the full width of the town square and Central Parade, improving access between shops and the square; a bespoke herringbone timber stage as a platform for community events; low brick seating walls and tree planting to line the square and screen the adjacent car parks; hard landscaping that provides opportunities for skating and play and a rooftop community signage board that both signals the entrance to New Addington and promote upcoming events and activities in conjunction with a new community website.