© 2018 by RE:ALM x SoLA

Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester Metropolitan University

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Florence Moon: Brentford High Street

Florence Moon graduated with a BLA in 2008, previously studying for her undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture at MMU between 2003-2006. Subsequently she worked for Kinnear Landscape Architects and now has a senior position at LDA.


Florence always had a strong spirit and combined this with a highly developed sense of intellectual maturity. This was evidenced in her individual approach to her work, where she was very determined to express her own ideas and, as tutors, it was our job to help bring these to fruition! This led to many interesting conversations, and combined with a dry sense of humour, made for stimulating dialogue at the drawing board.

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Brentford High Street

Brentford High Street, © KLA

On reflection, one of the most interesting things about this project, was that it did not present itself as a huge opportunity from the brief that was given. Through the evolution of the design process, opportunities were uncovered, developed and realised with outcomes which far exceeded people’s expectations.


Understanding how the project came about and the structure of the client and funding body involved, became an opportunity for pushing the boundaries of the brief. I find this part of what we do as Landscape Architects important to revealing design opportunities. If we look carefully at what we are being asked to do, and by who, there are many ways we can interpret this. Our real power is using this interpretation of brief to really make a difference through projects.


Understanding how the project come about


One of The Greater London Authority (GLA) initiatives in 2010 - 2011 was to allocate funding to suburban Local Authorities in London for investment in their public realm. This pot of money was known as the Mayor’s Outer London Fund (OLF).


Brentford High Street, © KLA

The London Borough of Hounslow were successful in their application for OLF funding for Brentford Town Centre and they went about advertising for a Landscape Architect to develop designs which would deliver their vision for an improved High Street.


In September 2012 Kinnear Landscape Architects (KLA) were successful in obtaining the commission, and were appointed to London Borough of Hounslow to deliver the project from concept design through to delivery on site. I became involved with the project straight away as a member of the KLA team.


Lynn Kinnear was the project director, she steered the direction of the design process, client liaison and management. I became the project landscape architect, developing design proposals and collaborating with other designers, artists and engineers to realise the ideas.


Challenging the brief...

We got to the know the ‘High Street Steering Group’, a group of local stake holders, some local business owners, a local councillor and MP who all had a vested interest in the future of Brentford High Street. To their minds, luring the thousands of employees working Monday - Friday in the ‘Golden Mile’ was not the answer to rejuvenating the failing High Street. The High Street Steering Group’s aspirations were for a market to be reinstated as a vibrant heart of Brentford for local people, with an improved environment encouraging local business occupation of empty shops.

 Brentford Market Place, © KLA

We got to the know the ‘High Street Steering Group’, a group of local stake holders, some local business owners, a local councillor and MP who all had a vested interest in the future of Brentford High Street. To their minds, luring the thousands of employees working Monday - Friday in the ‘Golden Mile’ was not the answer to rejuvenating the failing High Street. The High Street Steering Group’s aspirations were for a market to be reinstated as a vibrant heart of Brentford for local people, with an improved environment encouraging local business occupation of empty shops.


We visited business’ on the ‘Golden Mile ‘ itself where global companies provided their own ‘internal high streets’ with shops, cafes and amenities for employees to use without having to leave their building. Its connection to Brentford town centre and High Street seemed unlikely due to their self-contained amenities.


We began to develop a series of proposals including both physical improvement proposals and social enterprises that focused on what the local community really wanted from their High Street in the short and long term.


 Brentford Market Place, © KLA

We worked closely with the client and local community to develop the brief into something that became a more ambitious series of interventions;

  • Revitalised Market Place on the High Street; a new ‘heart’ of Brentford

  • Canalside Warehouse Sheds ‘light’ installation

  • Brentford Works Social Enterprise; activation of a vacant shop adjacent to the Market Place on the High Street

  • Brentford Bikes Delivery Service; connecting local business using the cycle network between the ‘Golden Mile’ and the High Street

Initially, the client - London Borough of Hounslow did not fully support the approach; which looked beyond the brief using both physical and social initiatives. It was a challenging series of proposals for the client to consider, as it involved the need for them to negotiate with other landowners and leaseholders to enable the proposals to happen. The community stakeholder group becoming active participants in the process was also challenging for them but ultimately gained support for the project.

Ultimately, the funding body (The GLA) who granted the scheme OLF funding were in support of the proposals and assisted us in persuading the local authority to do what was required to deliver it. In order to achieve this, a series of meetings and design review panels were held to endorse the approach.


Urban Curation


Urban curation was the strategic design approach to the development of this suite of projects. This is a flexible and collaborative design process allowing us to bring in artists and other facilitators to work with space and community as the project unfolds. The results are innovative urban interventions that truly address the complex contextual challenges of a place.


Brentford Warehouse Sheds, © KLA

The previously derelict warehouse shed structures were a fundamental ‘barrier’ to using this strategic route connecting Brentford High Street with the Golden Mile. They were dark and intimidating overhanging polluted waters and in a dilapidated condition. KLA’s proposal transforms the space to allow light in during the daytime and emitting light at night. Artist Simon Periton collaborated with us to develop the installation as an architectural sculpture on the canal. The space feels safer and more welcoming whilst celebrating the impressive industrial form that is unique to Brentford.


Through developing Brentford Bikes a strong team of local collaborators were formed and together developed social enterprise ‘Brentford Works’. With MAAP, The Decorators and Brentford High Street Steering Group a lease was negotiated for a vacant shop to become an outlet for activity and for local businesses/community enterprises to set up and flourish on the High Street. Cycling infrastructure and culture is also seen at this meanwhile space where local business London Bike Hub offer cycle repair, cycle maintenance classes and provide a free pump for public use.



Brentford Bikes, © KLA

All of the project threads - of community, a shift in transport culture, the cultural and physical connections to the canal - come together in the public realm works in the Market Place. The newly configured flexible space accommodates regular markets and events whilst also providing a living room in the town centre with a variety of opportunities for meeting and playing across all generations. Symbolising the shift in transport the car park that was previously central to the market square has been removed and replaced with a flexible public space that can accommodate the market stalls. Public water play features and a new willow tree reconnect Brentford High Street to its waterside heritage.


Recognition for the project


The project received the Landscape Institute’s President Award in 2015.

I believe this outward recognition was down to the ambitious proposals that emerged from a relatively uninspiring brief and the amount of collaboration that took place between artists, designers, the local community and partnering organisations to make it happen.

I think it is also down to really looking at what improving people’s environment means, and looking beyond the landscape architects brief which in practice often prescribes physical requirements for a site. Bringing these physical interventions to life by engaging with the activities and personalities that will bring them alive is a good starting point for design. I think this is the real opportunity we have as landscape architects to make places which are really loved.

Underpinned by thorough community engagement the work has laid foundations for Brentford to become a more liveable, prosperous and socially sustainable place.


Everybody really loves the square. I have lived here for 10 years and this is a real boom for the area. Everybody loves the mosaic signs and water for children to play in. (Local cyclist)
This is brilliant this is. (Local trader)
This is exactly the sort of rejuvenation we want to see in our high streets. (Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London)