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Street Life Theoretical and Technical report


Title of report: Does Gillett Square design represent the cultural diversity of Dalston area

Report by:

Asha Farah


Kingston University


Theoretical appraisal

Project Partnership 3

Introduction 4

History 6

Land ownership and management 7

Design Intention 8

Technical appraisal


Site plan 12

Circulation 13

Pavement study 14

Cross section : Market pod 15

Tree detail 16

Conclusion 17

Bibliography 18

Client for New Square : Matthew Carrington, Groundwork East London
Client for Culture House : Adam Hart, Hackney Co-operative Developments
Enabler from GLA : John Fannon, Architecture and Urbanism Unit
Architects/ Co-ordinators : Russell Brown, Hawkins\ Brown
Landscape Architects : Ian Turkington, Whitelaw Turkington
Vortex Jazz Foundation : Oliver Weindling, Vortex Jazz Foundation

Gillett square is a newly designed square aimed to be report, it may raise questions into how the designers could
a focal point for residents living in the Dalston area, The overlook this point when designing and therefore not
Square carries a theme to allow diversity of cultures to properly representing a particular group. This leads on to the
be celebrated and exhibited, as the region undergoes point, that much of our judgements about representations
a transformation both through gentrification and may be solved thorough community delegation on cultural
redevelopment. representation and can be used as a primary resource to
form understandings.
Dalston compromises a mixed population, of which 59% is
white, 25% black, 3% Chinese and 4% mixed heritage. The report will look into how cultural landscape are currently
designed, through three approaches, Symbolic referencing;
This report aims to explore the challenges of designing a create a landscape or landscape design element to
public open space to represent cultures, and how this may symbolise a cultural group or a region, Experimental
be achieved given the added complexity of diversity. referencing; creating a subtle linkage to cultural groups’
Cultural landscapes, have a diverse and very expressive, native environments, and Facility provision; providing
symbolic connection to heritage and beliefs. They activities that aid in the settlement and contribution to the
encapsulate the imagery and associations to create a well being of a community for example. Facilities that may
recognizable identity with that group. However at times be found in the native environment of the group.
this imagery may not give the real sense of culture, and
thus leads to distortion. Although this is not explored in this

Gillett square, in Dalston, is located in east London and activity in and around Hackney, such as the Rio cinema (the
the borough of hackney. This was previously used as a car only independent and community run cinema in the country
park with a north and south bay and dividing the two was show casing Turkish films), Dalston cultural house and Hackney
Gillett street connecting the main market street, kingsland to empire, cultural expression is never in scarcity.
Boleyn road. The new Gillett Square would be competing with well
established cultural venues and therefore may not achieve its
Gillett Square, has been modelled to celebrate the cultural aimed vision. This could result in limited usage of the square.
diversity of Dalston. Hackney Co-operation Development’s Through my observation during the day time, the square was
(HCD) vision was to transform the south bay car park into, almost empty with a few people using the kiosks on site. This is
‘A new cultural and creative arts hub for the East London in direct contrast to the Kingsland High street, where the real
Gateway’, aimed at giving space back to the large cultural difference can be experienced. This shows the square
community of Dalston and to alleviate the conflict between has not embodied the successful diversity of the Kingsland
pedestrian and car flow on Kingsland High street which is High street
adjacent to the square. With a wide selection of cultural

Historically Hackney is a place where migrant communities installation of 5 market pods, by Hawkins /Brown architects,
arrived, but as transitory residence in the late 1940s and facing the north side of Gillett Street. Market pods gathered
eventually some migrants began to settled in the mid 1950s. some interest with its design, winning the Design Week Award
as well as receiving the Civic Trust
Gillett street, first under went it’s transformation 9 years ago In 2000 Mac Donald Egan obtained planning permission for
when Hackney Co-operation Development implemented a high density mixed use scheme to the north side of Gillett
its plans to regenerate the low quality car park, on the street.
north and south side of Gillett street. The regeneration
would see a 1390 sq.m, if cleared, with a potential of over
40 business/trading stores. This formed the first phase of the
implementation with London Authority making improvements
to the surfacing on the adjacent streets to initiate work.
The second phased saw the new Square materialise with an
Land ownership and management

Hackney Co-operative Development has, over a period opting for alternative parking and created more time
of time formulated a working body to transform the for negotiations to take place with the developers for
Dalston area. One such projects was the creation of a Stamford Works to integrate their design into the Square.
new public space in Gillett street.

Hackney Co-operative Development implemented a
policy to work with several stakeholders to form the Gillett
Square Partnership ,which included,
Hackney Co-operative Developments - as the
managers and leaseholders,
Hackney council- as the owners of the site to be Legend
Mac Donald Egan- the managers and owners of
Stamford Works
Stamford Works at the North end of the site,
Groundwork East London - who are the major funders
for the developments, and, the Greater London Mixed commerial and
Authority Architecture + Urbanism Unit - developing The Jazz club
the site for a project: 100 Public Spaces programme, Hackney Cooperative
managed by the Mayor, Ken Livingston. Deveopment (HCD)
The Culture House and the
In 2002 Gillett Square Partnership commissioned Ownership
architects Hawkins/Brown to initiate the first stage of Macdonald Egan
the development of the new square by redesigning Hackney Council
prefabricate units and the layout of the south side
of the proposed square and in the same year, the
partnership consulted with landscape architects
Whitelaw Turkington.

By March 2004 Gillett Square Partnership was granted
its first funding of £850k, although the sum was relatively
constricting, this turned out to be an advantage as it
gave time to the car park uses to adjust to changes by
Design intention




1 Flood lights 6 Natural granite Setts
5 2 Column light with lantern heads 7 Hardwood timber stage
6 3 Timber bench 8 Gabion fenced wall
4 Steel screen wall 9 Hackney Co-operative Development
5 Natural granite slabs building

The design framework highlighted in the Landscape Design local community and by extension it is anticipated that they will
consultants Brief, July 2002, focused on 6 criteria to demonstrate use the square. However the market pods cover only 5% of the
how the proposals meet key goals and visions, of which were: square and may not attract enough people.
The character of the space is also represented by two cultural
Character: a place with its own identity. The Dalston area has houses these are the Vortex jazz club and Dalston culture house.
a strong cultural identity, Consultants needed to acknowledge Both mediums attract people to the square. Therefore the
this within their design proposals. square is depending on the success of these two venues. How-
The square is made active, with people enjoying the market
pods or visiting the Vortex, attending to the car park or simply
sitting or passing through. The market pods are owned by the lo-
cal community and provide services which are targeted at the
Design intention STREET LIFE MODULE 9


1. Hackney Co-operative Development
2. Gillett Square
1 4
3. 5 Market pods
4. Residential housing
5.The Vortex Jazz club
6. The Dalston Culture house
7. Car park

this does not satisfy the objective of the square, because on Architecture comes about as an expression of what already ex-
days when there are no events the square lies empty. ists rather than creating that social connection. Not only that,
but it ignores the dynamics of cultural make up of communities.
The main vision of Hackney Co-operative Development was for I believe square in its current form can not exist on its own, as
the square to be ‘A new cultural and creative arts hub for the mention above, it is dependent on the surrounding architecture.
East London Gateway’, given that the square is heavily reliant to Over time the cultural diversity may change this would not be
attract people to the two venues, the vision of the square is not reflected in the architects.

A square is a place where people come together to preform
their public communion. A vital element with in our cities. Com-
munities are constructed not through architecture but through
social connections
Design intention STREET LIFE MODULE 10

Quality of the public realm; square. Adaptability: a place that
a place with attractive and The overall square has a can change easily.
successful outdoor areas lot of coherence and the Adaptability in this instance
A sense of place grows as choice of materials is of could mean how easy the
we becomes accustom to consistent high quality. square can accommodate
its identifiable element. its guest, and in this
The key identifiable element Ease of movement, a place light I feel this is not very
in Gillett Square is the that is easy to get to and adaptable.
Gabion fence wall with move through. With a large space at the
stone infill and rusty metal The whole square is centre of the square for
frame which is in the east covered using hard the public to initiate their
side of the square, this is an landscape materials and is private events this is not
unusual feature but adds a open through three main an easy enough task. In
strong and composed look entrances and exists. The the square there are no
to the square, this rust effect large expansion of open retreats or secluded areas.
is carried on through to then space allow pedestrians This, in the design process
north side with a decorative to move freely and was discussed with the
steel screen separating the accommodates the large agenda to solve the issue of
car park from the square. crowds attending events. drunken people gathering
Another strong feature is the The west and east entrance in the square. This led to
raised timber decking near give access to the car park. compromising this key
the south entrance from Legibility, a place that has a element.
Bradbury Street. This also clear image and is easy to
follows the theme of the understand. To analyse whether the
rusty look but has 4 Pinus I feel that square has a clear design of the square
nigra Austriaca trees to and defined layout. Much of showcases the cultural
create a seating and shade. the furniture is located along diversity Dalston area, I will
The rusty metal colour the pavement walkways use the three approaches
scheme also fits well with along each entrance. There outline in the introduction to
the Dalston Culture House is a uniform arrangement of the report.
design. light columns and bollards
The high quality finish of the with each lighting columns
pavement also blend in with separated by three bollards.
the main features of the

Analysis : Site plan

Pinus nigra ‘Austriciaca
7-8 meters, 3m clear stem

Column mounted lumaries 5m

Timber bench

Cycle rack

Litter Bin

Decorative steel screen

Stone steps granite

Stamford Works
Removable bollard


Gillett Sqaure entrance sign

North side Car Park
Retained wall

Natural granite Setts

Natural Granite Slabs
300 x 600 x 600mm thick
Raised Hardwood Timber

Natural Granite Slabs
The culture house 150 x 300 x 60m thick
the Vortex

Market Pods HCD

The Jazz Club

1:200 N
Analysis: Circulation


Gathering of people
1-5 indivualszz

Pedestrian movement

Cyclist movement

Vehicle movement

1:200 N
The site has a good and broad circulation with all floor space being used.
The two popular site has good access points with all three entrances/exists roughly at equal distances.
The car park is the most used function, when there is an over flow demand of car park space, the est side of the square is
used as the an extended car park, illustrating the adaptability of the square.
Event days sees the square at its fully function, with all three entrances providing good access to the square.
Analysis : Pavement study






a. a. Natural granite Slab mixed with silver grey and
light pink granites 150 x 300 x 60 mm thick The pavement is finished to a high
Natural granite Setts Grey granite 300 x standard and 3 years since it’s
b. opening is still sustaining its desired
600 x 60mm thick
c. Timber decking- Hardwood with corundum inlay The material selection has meant
that the maintenance cost was
d. Raised timber stage- Hardwood cut as well ensured the square a
longer service life.
e. Macadam paving

b. f. Infill between kerb tooled concrete finish

g. Tactile paving
h. New 50mm macadam wearing course to existing carpark
Analysis : Cross section of the market pod

45 mm stainless steel handrail- brushed finish. Finish brackets 40x 20 mm
with secret fixing, welding to 20 x 30mm galvanised MS bar set into
concrete foundation.

Fixing bracket
Timber joints 75 x 225 mm bolted to galvanised, angles which are
bolted to concrete base.
Stainless stell warning bars set into timber at 50mm centres Based to be laid to fall with gully/channel to collect water
for 800 mm depth top and bottom of stair.

38 x 138 mm hardwood timber

Fall along the length
Stainless steel marker
of concrete base
bars set into paving
10mm movemnt joints against base

Concrete base ontop of existing ground

10-40 mortor bed
Stainless stell marker bars set into paving

Analysis: Tree detail

Pinus nigra austrian pine
4.5 container grown x 4

Pinus nigra Austrian is a fast growing pine
tree and can grow up to 40 to 60 feet in
height. Grown on highways and parking
lots as it is able to cope in area where there
is low levels of water.
As Austriaca pine is difficult to transplant Timber deck stage Hardwood
so should be planted from containers or Cor ten weather steel deck
moved burlapped after being root pruned.
The Pine could suffer a cottony growth on
the bark producing a honey dew which Granite setts

may support sooty mold. Mortar bed
Concrete bed
Symbolism referencing: a landscape design that implements
symbolises cultural groups
Hackney is made up of very diverse cultural groups, however it is not
clear how this is represented in the design of the square. As discussed,
the usage of the square is reliant on the events of the surrounding
buildings, this suggests that the square does not have an independent
The ease of movement is enhanced by having three entrances to the
square. The square also lies adjacent to a very busy high street this
may encourage the interaction of the people from different cultural

Given that the square does not have a identifiable symbol or image
depicting particular cultural groups, it can be used by different cultures
independently. However users may not feel attached to the square.

Experimental referencing: creating a subtle linkage to cultural groups
The overall design did not experiment with different ways of
representing culture. I believe if this was implemented in the original
plan the community would have identified more with the square.

Facility provision; providing activities that aid in the settlement and
contribution to the well being of a community

Since the square is an open space the community can use the space
for their functions, this could enhance cultural interaction, however the
square space is limited and can only accommodate a small number
of people at a give time.

Overall culture is represented through the existence of the venues the
cultural diversity of the square could be opened up and linkage to
the Kingsland high street, where cultural diversity is evident through
food, colour and smells. Gillett square is aimed at the local community
to enjoy and interact, however it remains empty for most part of the
day. This suggests that Hackney Co-operation Development has not
achieve its vision.

Gehl, J 2006, Life between building: Using public spaces,
Danish Architectural press, Skive

Jackson, J B1994, A Sense of place, a Sense of time, Yale
University press, USA

Bacon, E N 1978, Design of cities, Thames Hudson, London.


Rishbeth, C 2001, Ethnic Minority Groups and the Design of
Public Open Spaces: an inclusive landscape?, Landscape
research, Vol. 26, No. 4, pg 351-366


Hawkins B, August 2004, Contextual Information

Landscape design consultants Brief, July 2002, Gillett
Square Partnership, HCD, Mac Donald Egan, Groundswork

Dalston, May 2008, Arts Space of the Future Exhibition and
Project Launch.

Local Development Framework- Dalston Area Action Plan,
Mayor of London And LBH.

Related Interests