Leonard Circus – ​Shared Space

Location: Shoreditch, London Borough of Hackney, London, UK

The London Borough of Hackney has established a reputation for proactive and innovative upgrading of its street environment. The advent of the Central London Congestion Charging Zone radically changed the traffic pattern in Leonard Circus, London, EC2. Pedestrian and cycling traffic have dramatically increased following the significant reduction in motor traffic.

In order to facilitate the new traffic pattern and also to calm vehicular movements the ‘shared space’ system pioneered by the Dutch traffic engineer, Hans Monderman, has been applied together with the theories developed in the UK by Stephen O’Malley. The result is regulated and calmed traffic conditions plus a greener and more attractive environment.

Following the relocation of a 1996 public art installation which had obstructed cycle and pedestrian traffic, the whole of Leonard Circus was repaved on a single level without kerbing, signage or carriageway markings. The area between the buildings has been laid with unglazed brickwork, broken up by an irregular pattern of panels using contrasting grey granite, York Stone and Italian porphyry.

The apparently random planting of eleven trees of various evergreen and deciduous varieties was, in fact, dictated by the need to avoid the very dense network of utility ducting and cabling.

The need to protect these services and maintain the load-bearing capacity of the road system was successfully achieved without compromising the spatial and nutritional requirements of the developing tree roots. The innovative design of the GreenBlue Urban load-bearing StrataCell modular system ensures a greatly enhanced soil environment eliminating compaction and maintaining irrigation and ventilation. The modular aspect of the system enables the fast construction of tree pits of irregular shape and requires no mechanical handling during installation.