A visionary Kentish Town Square – and daily market under the canopy?

A local architect has been shortlisted in RIBA’s annual Forgotten Spaces competition to create an exciting space which would extend over the railway lines to form a vibrant local hub. In the meantime, let’s support flower seller Natasha’s wish for a thriving daily market

Kentish Town Square as imagined by BBUK Studio and Urban Projects Bureau
Kentish Town Square as imagined by BBUK Studio and Urban Projects Bureau

We love this. RIBA run an ideas competition for London’s forgotten spaces every year, and one one of 2013’s shortlisted entries addresses the opportunity of extending over the space above the railway lines (opposite the Assembly House) to make a smart new urban square.

The visionary folk behind it are BBUK, a landscape practice based in the Dove Centre in Bartholomew Road. Says director Harriet Bourne: “Both my practice and Urban Projects Bureau share an office in Kentish Town, so have to battle up the overcrowd pavement of Leighton Road every morning as well as fighting through the crowds on the pavement outside the station; when you look at the space in plan it seems a very obvious solution.”

“Kentish Town Square creates a new urban hub in north London, and a much-needed active heart for the local community and visitors to the area. The entry addresses one of north London’s biggest missed opportunities in Kentish Town,
transforming an existing space, currently an inaccessible and incoherent public corner, into a vibrant and active public space by extending it over the platforms and rail lines of Kentish Town Station into a generous new urban square and hub for the local community. It is currently a traffic-dominated, overcrowded, dirty and unattractive corner, the square could become a new external heart for Kentish Town a meeting space, market place and local destination.”

New entrances from the square would be created into Kentish Town tube and rail stations, relieving the existing congestion and creating a space for markets and cafes. A new station canopy improves 24 hour access to the overground railway platforms below, and creates backdrop to the square, reminiscent of the old station demolished in the 1970s.

The square would be carefully landscaped to evoke the direction and history of the railway lines beneath, and includes new plantings of small flowering trees, benches, enlarged bicycle parking and room for market stalls. It would reconnect the local routes of Leverton Street and Frideswide Place, and providing north to south cycle route which can be continued along the whole length of Kentish Town Road.

Exciting, huh (if very ambitious)? And on a related note, Natasha, who runs the flower stall under the canopy, is passionate about getting reader support to rethink the canopy area into a daily food market. Other than her stall and Bean About Town it remains massively under-used and could be – Kentish Town Square or not – a much more lively interim hub for both locals and visitors.

What do you think? Show your support below.

This is box title
Competition winners are announced in October 2013 and all entries are to be featured in a a major pubic exhibition held at Somerset House 04 October – 10 November 2013.

  • Show Comments

  • Tony

    I like it – I approve of the cycle path idea especially.

    • Paul Lewis

      As a pedestrian I cannot accept any more concessions to those who think that they have immunity from the law because the are cyclists. When you see a red light, I see a green light. STOP. Get off the pavements.

      • Chris.

        Cycling through Kentish Town is quite dangerous – personally i’ve had people in cars spit at me and try to hit me with their doors. Honestly, yes, i’ve gone through reds when it’s clear of cars and pedestrians but my motivation is safety rather than speed. There are bad cyclists, bad drivers, bad pedestrians – but the vast majority are very good – it’s worth remembering.

  • Hi Street Ken

    Superb idea and much needed open space to Kentish Town! If only this would happen.

  • Mad Dog

    I’d love to see a food market there.

  • Cardinal Wolsey

    awesome – would love to see this happen, i live just around the corner

  • tobi

    looks good, keep it a truly public space though and corporate free.
    Interesting related read:

  • Vicky

    Wouldn’t an immediate solution be to move The Fruit Bowl fruit and veg stand to a location under the canopy, which would free up some pavement space outside the tube station and bus-stop?

    • Neil

      That makes complete sense. Wonder why it hasn’t been done.

      • Claire

        I agree The Fruit Bowl’s location is one of my major bug bears. You really notice the difference and can appreciate how wide the pavement actually is on a Sunday morning when it’s closed, I would love for it to move.

  • MrsOtis

    This is fine as long as they reserve a space for the ladies and gentlemen who drink Extra Strong under the current canopy. I have lived nearby for 20 years, and they remain a constant as the area continues to gentrify.

  • Natalia S

    That would be amazing! Would love to see this happen…

  • Sue Odell

    Wow! This design is fabulous! Such a great way to revitalise the area! Fingers crossed that it happens!

  • trenchantly

    Think how many more drunks we could have!

  • MsTash

    Love the idea! BUT please don’t rubbish the quirks of KT (such as Fruit Bowl) that have contributed to its charm and make it another gentrified farmers bloody market that could be picked up and dropped any-old-where…we can all go to Primrose Hill and the like for overly gentrified snacks and lounging….

  • T W

    A great idea, and even better if it could be combined with moving the station platforms to the other side of the road bridge. Currently the platforms are limited to 8 carriages, which prevents longer 12 carriage Thameslink trains stopping at K Town.

  • Kentish Town Mum

    Really like this idea- feels safer with kids and provides a focus point for KT.

    I would love to see a proper bakery/ bread stall in KT (though Bumblebee and Earth have good offerings, and now Brecknock market too).

    Also support Natasha expanding the canopy use!

  • Pete Stean

    There’s an absolutely depressing amount of concrete in that plan, with only a few trees to disguise it. Almost as bad as the new ‘piazza’ outside Kings Cross…

  • Sarah

    They would have to do something about that awful smell from the drain behind the Bean About Town van.

  • Sam Appleby

    The space envisaged/depicted is vast. Where’s it all going to come from?

  • Richard Ehrlich

    I like the idea in principle, but am not sure about the need for a daily food market. Or, more precisely: I worry that a food market might damage our current food retailers. If shoppers at the food market all constituted new spending, it would be great, If their spending took money from Phoenicia, Earth, and all our other good retailers, it would not be so great. The same goes for catering outlets, which would probably be diverting spending from pubs, restaurants and others. There is not an infinite demand for retail food. Increasing the supply has to be done in a way that doesn’t threaten the commercial viability of those who are already here.

  • Josh Wilson

    To get real – the artists impression distorts the perspective of the corner site (check google earth). The sheme as proposed would involve a quadrupling of the available site area above the busy rail tracks below. To extend over the tracks would cost 100 times that of the landscaping shown. That part of KT really does need a good public amenity though.

  • Agnes

    As a parent walking my kids to school through this area, I more than support this new plan. The kids are having trouble dealing with the crowds and are sometimes given a hard time from pedestrians for being on their scooters. A lot of parents also feel nervous about their kids being so close to traffic on Leighton and Kentish Town Road.