Central London’s newly transformed public space, stands as a striking example of modern urban redevelopment, harmonising security with aesthetic appeal. The area’s £22m reimagining, crowned as the Winner of Public Space at The Pineapples Awards 2023, reflects a profound commitment to meeting the diverse needs of a community encompassing students, academics, visitors, office workers, residents, and businesses. This transformation has not only created an inclusive public realm where none existed but has also tamed a notoriously dangerous road, making it safer and more accessible.
Collaborative Effort in Design and Security: This remarkable transformation was made possible through the collaboration of PSSA member companies, D J Goode & Associates Ltd, Marshalls Landscape Protection, and Heald Ltd alongside 70 other stakeholders. Each brought their unique expertise to the project, working under the umbrella of Westminster City Council and guided by the lead designer and landscape architect LDA Design . The civil engineering and highways responsibilities were adeptly handled by WSP specialists in future-proofing cities and environments.
The Strand Aldwych Vision: Opened in December 2022, the new pedestrianised area of Strand Aldwych near Somerset House and close to the Thames marks Central London’s first new public space in a decade. Transforming a previously polluted and gridlocked stretch of Strand into a serene and inviting outdoor spot, this space spans approximately 170 metres. Its design, intended to encourage people to linger, features benches, landscaping, and trees, creating an oasis in the heart of the city.
Incorporating Hostile Vehicle Mitigation: A significant aspect of this redevelopment was the creation of a Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) secure zone. Extending from the western end of Aldwych to Melbourne Place, just beyond St Mary le Strand, this zone prioritises pedestrian and cyclist safety. Pamela Buxton, The RIBA Journal
Marshalls played a pivotal role in the hard landscaping for commercial construction, supplying materials like Laurel Bank and Thornlake Indian Sandstone, Scoutmoor Yorkstone, and Vega granite – materials that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are robust.
Innovative Security Solutions: Heald’s contribution to this project is significant, with their multi-award-winning Matador sliding bollard system.
This patent-protected security system is crash-tested to various IWA standards, ensuring maximum safety while preserving the area’s visual appeal. During original crash testing, the Matador not only halted the test vehicle with a zero penetration rating but also continued to function without repairs, showcasing its resilience and innovative design.
Specialist Expertise from D.J. Goode & Associates: The expertise of D.J. Goode & Associates in counter-terrorism advice, security design, blast and ballistic engineering, and hostile vehicle mitigation was integral to the project’s success. Their focus on threat mitigation ensured that the security aspects of the redevelopment were thoroughly addressed without compromising the area’s historic and cultural integrity.
The Strand Aldwych transformation is a beacon for urban redevelopment, demonstrating that safety and beauty can coexist seamlessly in our cities. This project, a result of extensive collaboration and innovative design, offers a blueprint for future urban spaces where communities can thrive in safety and comfort. As a new destination in London, Strand Aldwych is not just a public space; it’s a symbol of how thoughtful design can rejuvenate a city, supporting both security and enjoyment for all who visit.