Our redesign of the Mansell Street entrance of Tower Gateway station in East London was a regeneration project, carefully designed to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.
The Western Tower Gateway station exit used to cross a derelict enclave between a busy road, a multi-storey car park and an elevated railway line. Even so, it was on a strong desire-line, so was heavily used by the public despite the perceived and actual risk of crime. The existing station exit consisted of an unattractive winding metal staircase which offered short visibility lines for users. When public offences occurred they were hidden, except for some CCTV cameras which were regularly and easily obscured.
Our redesign used robust gabion structures to remove hidden corners and introduced a carefully-selected multi-stemmed native tree. A long, gentle, sweeping staircase gave people a sense of security and increased their visibility within the public realm. We also improved the lighting, signage and street-level paving, and introduced new wall surfaces that were designed to be both tactile, and interesting, while discouraging vandalism.
Later, when the DLR station platform was extended as part of the four-car platform extension project, our carefully designed and popular station entrance was demolished, and the tree destroyed, according to designs from a large national multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy that produced a somewhat unsympathetic design; reinstating a socially unsustainable, winding staircase.
The City of London and Docklands Light Railway were pleased with the results of our work, and a string of further public space commissions followed from both organisations.
Photography: Peter Cook