Shopfront improvement projects such as those on London’s Leyton High Road and Blackhorse Lane have already been shown to be a straightforward and effective way to boost civic pride. The We Made That-designed scheme on Blackhorse Lane recently won a New London Award for its contribution to the area’s regeneration.
Tottenham is the latest bit of the capital to benefit from just such a project, this time courtesy of architects You&me. The London Borough of Haringey was suitably impressed with the practice’s previous shopfront work in Barking to award them this scheme, after a multi-way tender process, and over 20 have already undergone a design-led makeover.
Before the design work began, You&me undertook a comprehensive engagement process. “Haringey were really keen for us to work with local businesses,” begins Alicja Borkowska, one half of the Anglo-Greek architecture firm. Early on, they completed a scoping report, mapping the condition of shopfronts along Tottenham High Road and West Green Road.
“The next stage was to focus on key cluster groups and to have as many shops together as possible, corner sites that would maximise the impact,” adds You&me’s Iris Papadatou. Independent shops, especially those that had served the area for a long time, were given preference over chain stores and those with paid-for sponsorship on their frontage.
The new shopfronts take their cues from the area’s history and community stories, as well as the products and services of the local businesses. At Diamonds barbers on West Green Road, You&me took down the canopy but kept the original weatherboard and used sparkly mirrored vinyl both to give visual interest and to reference the mirrors that are an essential part of a hairdresser’s arsenal. The dark green colour scheme has been retained, with spruced-up paintwork that matches the original tiling.
Food shop Kejetia takes its name from one of the largest markets in Africa and specialises in products from the continent. Previously, the window was blocked up with stock but now it has been given a new livery in bright red, chosen to entice customers inside, while anecdotes relating to the produce – Alexander the Great used plantains to help cure his headaches – “help the shopfront become a public exhibition,” says Papadatou.“They have the most incredible products so we used graphics to bring them to the forefront,” adds Borkowska.
The big reveal for the shopfronts was deliberately staggered so that momentum for the project could build. The project includes other work in the public realm such as seating, lighting and public art. “In our consultation period, we liaised closely with the council in producing a good design guide. By working at grass roots you really can find the best solution,” says Papadatou.
From deepest north London, You&me’s shopfronts are going global: next, it is working some retail magic on the streets of Doha in Qatar.
Tottenham is the latest area of London to receive a cheery upgrade to the public realm via shopfront makeovers