Tuesday, 21 February 2012

'Keep it authentic'; Stop the exclusion of local businesses'; 'We don't need another Carnaby Street'. Scrawled on a chalkboard standing in Soho's Berwick Street, these are just a few of the responses gathered by two architecture students who have been asking locals what they want for the future of this historic market.

Since mid-November, Sophie Ramsbotham and Alex Furunes, both students at the architectural Association School of Architecture, have been running a regular stall on the market, collecting drawings and comments from local traders and passers-by on the chalkboard and through video interviews. The project, called Positive Dialogues, comes as plans are underway to revitalise the formerly busy street, which has seen a drop in trade over the past year. 

Westminster City Council has selected a preferred bidder, but little is known about what exactly the redevelopment might involve. 'We will be consulting with local traders and residents prior to a lease being signed,' said Richard Platt, Westminster City Council's head of corporate property.

Ramsbotham and Furunes hope their own consultation will give a voice to locals' concerns. 'We are worried that yet another generic approach to design, that doesn't reflect the diversity of Berwick Street, might be seen as the answer,' says Ramsbotham. 'How can we capture the energy that exists in Soho and put it into the redevelopment of the street?'

The Positive Dialogues stall is on Berwick Street, noon to 5pm Tuesdays. 


This article originally appeared in Time Out.

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