Dialogues 20/12/11

Use value in Berwick street

Today, we started to develop and play with ideas of how Berwick Street could be improved whilst still retaining the character and life that threads it right back through history. Passers by expressed how the market was the most essential priority for Berwick Street and absolutely has to be retained.

Many don’t think that Berwick Street should change at all, but for the market traders themselves, they think that without some sort of ‘lift’ or re-think, no-one will want to come. The interest seems to be how people can start to be ‘attracted back’ into the street, through playful means, without erasing it’s whole character.

“Can we liven up the Kemp House rather than demolish it?”

“The wonderful thing about London is that it still retains some individuality – you can feel its history. We must not erase the history of Berwick Street!”

“Keep the heart of Berwick Street”

A street theatre

Thoughts about how Kemp House, rather than being demolished, could turn into the ‘theatre’ of activity and life. Could it start to direct people back towards the street through means of events/music/theatre and playful seating areas for the Berwick Street lunch goers etc. Could the street transform in the lunch period where it turns into an activated event space, combining the market with other Soho Style activities? Puppet theatre/dance/live music/mime/swinging tables?

A place with a sense of individualty

This family were deeply expressing how much life and buzz that they remember this street having all those years ago, and that it would be too awful if a big developer just came along and commercialised it all. They expressed how the one amazing thing left that we have in London, is that sense of individuality within areas. Not everywhere it the same, and you can really feel a places history. Berwick Street must keep theirs!

Theatre costume stall

In 1933, we were told by a lady who was passing, that her mother used to hold some theatrical costume making stalls in the street! People would come past and try on different costumes in the street. These were then used for the theatres that were (are) scattered around Soho itself. Where have the diversity of market stalls gone? This house was painted by a young boy who was passing with his family.

The Valley

Kenji, who stood very cold at the market stall, started to describe how he thinks we should try and ‘feel’ the colours of the street. Then, he carried on to write; “Under the shadow , hard wind, I feel like standing under the valley.” Being inspired by the young boy who painted the house above, Kenji decided to change his style of painting to try and fit the mood of Soho!


This plan started to collect ideas about how the market could start to ‘spread’ and entice people in through all its entrances/walkways/viewpoints. Can Berwick street grow out from the confines of it’s street? Can it start to grow into Ingestre Place, and be connected through ‘growing’ walkways of vegetation? Could a garden market be introduced?

Please give us your thoughts on the issues raised above!!!