Positive dialogues:
Berwick St. Market, London, UK 2011

A close collaboration with the traders of Berwick Street Market to mobilize the community and develop an alternative master plan for the area.

Positive Dialogues was a collaboration with a community in Soho, to re-think the large-scale redevelopment of Berwick street market. Being one of the oldest markets in London, Berwick street market has been facing a number of attempts to transform the street into a commercial high street. In order to engage the residents and traders in the ongoing discussion and design of Berwick street, a hand-made market stall was built out of old reclaimed floorboards from a nearby hat factory to hold weekly open design workshops. Over the period of one year, the weekly workshops took form of events, shadow storytelling, painting, film and meetings with diverse members of the community as well as the developers. The market stall in itself offered nothing to sell, but rather gave people a space to exchange ideas. Whereas before, a disjointed communication led to the polarization of the community, this time, the open-mindedness of the approach brought a wide variety of members of the community together. Working with the different stakeholders in the street, identifying hopes and ambitions for the future of the market and bringing attention to the ongoing development plans helped mobilize opinions that were displayed and developed in the street. This process also inspired the re-establishment of the local community group called Berwick Street Working Group consisting of local market traders, residents and storeowners. They successfully stopped the then proposed redevelopment and launched other campaigns to develop the street the way they wanted. In the following years, several proposals made during the weekly workshops were realized by the local council in collaboration with the Berwick Street Working Group.

Team: Alexander Eriksson Furunes,
Sophie Ramsbotham & Kenji Takahashi
Partner: Berwick Street Working Group