Brick Lane Threads


Steer Davies Gleave

Practice Area


The London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Project Vision

As a first step in establishing a wayfinding strategy to support smaller destinations across town centers, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets wanted to develop a high-level wayfinding strategy for Brick Lane and identify a series of characterful, creative and distinctive interventions to increase footfall and aid discovery and exploration.

It was key that the improvements to the area also benefit the lives of people who live in the area. Interventions focus on wayfinding but also consider other opportunities for public art and public realm improvement to support the area’s legibility, connectivity and overall quality. Brick Lane is not just a destination but a vibrant community, home to a diverse and rich culture.

Consultation with stakeholders and especially the local community was key to the development of recommendations. The initial brief of the project focused on the development of a wayfinding strategy for the area. After a initial analysis it was clear to the Steer Davies Gleave team that the issues and potential solution went far beyond wayfinding.

The Steer Davies Gleave design team was diverse and included specialists in economics, architecture, branding, urban design, wayfinding and planning. The wayfinding and connectivity strategy was delivered as a concise printed document that set out over 30 projects to support wayfinding and spread footfall within the local area. The projects ranged from street name changes to the development of a urban pocket park.

An update of existing Brick Lane Cultural Trail signage totems will replace and update the five existing cultural trail sign structures to meet accessibility standards and provide updated information relating to the local area. The structures have proved to be popular with the local community.

A balcony art installation will reinforce informal wayfinding to draw footfall to the south and improve perception of the southern part of Brick Lane. This intervention is strategic because of the poor quality of the current frontage, its prominence and its location.

Whitechapel Gallery Garden  is a new pocket park behind the Gallery that will relieve pedestrian pressure from the Gallery’s main entrance and create an alternative high quality, comfortable pedestrian route between Commercial Street, Brick Lane and the Whitechapel Gallery.

A local business map focused on the promotion of local businesses is funded by them and made available in print format and digitally. The map is downloaded online as a PDF or handed out for free at local hotels, businesses and key attractions.

The local authority is currently securing funding in order to deliver ten of the projects identified during the project. The Brick Lane project has proved to be a catalyst for a wider set of regeneration projects that Steer Davies Gleave is now delighted to be part of.

Project Details
Easy to navigate with clear and distinct conclusions. Allows a tremendous amount of information to evolve and emerge into clear and concise conclusions and distinct interventions.
Juror 1
A thorough and well-designed presentation of mass amounts of information. I particularly enjoy the personal profiles.
Juror 2
Design Team

Riccardo Bobisse (urban designer, project director), James Brown (design strategist and project manager), Emily Whiteside (graphic designer), Clare Seldon (cartographer), Bridget Law (landscape architect), Helen McKenzie (GIS specialist)

Design Firm

Steer Davies Gleave