Grand Union Canal towpath contest

Published: Monday, 01 April 2019

THERE are six finalists in a contest to design a 'public realm intervention' on the towpath of the Grand Union Canal beneath the Westway in North Kensington.

The two-stage competition invites architects, landscape architects, designers and artists to submit ‘engaging and exciting’ concepts to transform the derelict motorway undercroft into a waterfront public space', Roger Fox reports.

WestwayKensingtonBacked by Canal & River Trust

The call for concepts—backed by the Canal & River Trust and Westminster City Councilt—'aims to deliver an experimental cross-section which boosts public interest and engagement' with the neglected canal towpath in the Harrow Road area of North Kensington'.

A spokesman for the competition explained:

"It is told that for many Londoners, their physical boundaries are set by the existence of everyday neglected spaces that seem to appear forbidding or unwelcoming. This competition is an excellent demonstration that architecture and design talent is key to demolishing those boundariesopening them up as places that are useful, enjoyable and safe.

"I’m delighted that our partnership with Westminster City Council will help to improve the local environment around Harrow Road for residents and canal users, and to demonstrate the transformative impact of good design."

Encourage more people

Hannah Gibbs, Canal & River Trust Enterprise Manager, added: ‘

"London’s canals are enjoying a boom; they’ve arguably never been more popular. We’ve seen that where people have improved or created interest in an area it has brought new life, which in turn encourages more people to use the canal and ultimately enjoy and get benefit from being by the water."

The Press Release tells: The contest focuses on the dramatic but unwelcoming towpath and undercroft where the canal and motorway meet. This is currently a largely underused space featuring graffiti murals and live-in canal boats.

The project aims to revitalise the canalside route while also creating a flagship example for a wider strategy to deliver similar improvement schemes across the area. Participating teams are invited to propose a 10-20m ‘cross-section’.

Submissions could including wayfinding or education resources, community uses, boating facilities, planting or public realm. Up to six shortlisted teams will receive £500 each to draw up design concepts following an expressions-of-interest round.

Who is paying?

We can but agree with Roger, who tells that It seems to be another of those good ideas that will turn out to be a potential waste of time and money. Speaking of which it is not at all clear who is paying for this.