The Latin Quarter Workshop, hosted by Latin Elephant was held on 19th November 2014 and brought together around 60 participants, including 21 Latin American traders and business owners, local councillors, representatives of the development companies involved in the regeneration of the area, representatives of community and voluntary organisations, architects and researchers.
Attendants were divided into 5 groups which held focussed discussions on three main themes: identity, public space and community in the context of the Latin Quarter. Participants were encouraged to identify the key positive and negative aspects of the current situation of the business community and brainstorm ideas for projects that would meet the needs of Latin American traders and wider Latin community.
This was a great opportunity for different stakeholders to raise the issues they are facing and have a positive dialogue with decision makers and other interested parties about the future of the area. (Read the full report here)
These project ideas are the result of the different discussions held by each group during the workshop. They are strategies and projects which could be implemented together or separately in order to address the current needs of the community and look towards the future.
1. Latin Quarter Visual Identity
This project consists of a branding strategy for the area as the Latin Quarter, which will include unifying elements of design to connect the
four business clusters and tell the story of the Latin American business
community at the Elephant.
Murals decorating the railway arches and bridge would reflect the colour and vibrancy of Latin American identity.
Bilingual street signs are used in many cities to reflect the presence of ethnic communities in the area, provide more accessible information and a sense of ownership and recognition.
A guide to the local businesses could include stories of Latin American traders at the Elephant, advertise products and services and highlight social events. Business directories and maps are used to provide information about successful shopping parades in London, such as Carnaby Street and Seven Dials
2. Latin Boulevard
Also know as Calle Latina, this boulevard will be the main focus and attraction of the Latin Quarter. It will connect Elephant Road with Eagle’s Yard through unifying urban design elements, such as pavement, lights and street furniture. The Boulevard will be pedestrianised in the afternoon and evening, in order to create a safe and enjoyable public space to gather, play and host events.
Elephant & Castle train station is an important point of access to the Latin Boulevard. Murals and design elements on the platforms and entrance to the station can be used to reflect the history of Latin American traders in the area. This approach is used in many parts of London, such as the stations on the Overground line.
Maps around Elephant and Castle will show the types of businesses on Latin Boulevard, increasing accessibility to other communities, and indicating the large spread of trades and services available in the Quarter.
New and improved pedestrian crossings will ensure safety and accessibility and will link Latin Boulevard with the wider area. Proposals include a crossing on Walworth Road under the bridge, to follow pedestrian desire lines.
Gateways to the area would create strong signifiers to attract and welcome visitors to the Latin Boulevard, and physically define the Quarter. They should contain elements of design and create bright, open and inviting spaces.
3. Public Realm Improvements
A public realm improvement strategy would address a range of
issues identified in the workshop, such as safety, attractiveness of the
area and coherent urban design. The delivery of the required work can be undertaken in partnership with the local business community through setting up a management board, together with the Council, developers and other partners such as Network Rail and voluntary organisations.
Outdoor seating will increase the functionality of public realm, creating safe and enjoyable pockets of space to gather, rest and eat. Street furniture can be placed outside the arches especially between Walworth Road and the train station, where there is more room and shelter.
Lighting is an essential element for improving safety and appearance, especially along the railway arches and under the bridge. Solutions could take the form of art installations, such as this example from Hungerford Bridge.
Refurbishment of the railway arches would meet the needs of growing and emerging businesses, and would support the flexible approach taken by Latin American traders to share the space between a variety of uses. Improving the appearance of storefronts by incorporating elements of design and art would make the business clusters more visible and attractive.
By creating a shared space on Latin Boulevard, serving deliveries in the morning and open to pedestrians in the afternoons, the street would become a public space which can be improved through landscaping and functional elements.
4. Latin American Food and Craft Market
Food, arts and crafts are extremely important and defining elements of
any culture, which bring communities together and attract others to join in and understand more. The large number of Latin American restaurants and cafes at the Elephant, as well as local artisans and manufacturers of traditional products could come together at a Food
and Craft Market held regularly in the area. London’s street markets are very successful, as they cater both for locals and tourists, creating spaces for businesses and communities to thrive. Potential locations for a market in the Latin Quarter could be Elephant Road, Eagle’s Yard or the public space part of the Delancey Phase 1 development, on the corner of Elephant Road and New Kent Road.
Pop up temporary markets have recently become a popular way of utilising sites that are being developed, an example being the Bishopsgate Market which ran during the summer of 2014 next to a development site near Liverpool Street, or the Eat St market located to King’s Boulevard, adjacent to the redevelopment of King’s Cross.
This type of market often contributes to the gentrification of an area, as it caters to different categories of customers. However, the Latin American food market supplied by local businesses would increase the strength of local economy while continuing to provide traditional food to the community.
Street food festivals are a way of celebrating traditions and culture and creating memorable experiences. They can also be a creative fundraising tool, where profits from the event can go towards supporting other community projects.
Markets supplying fresh produce have a great contribution to the health and well being of communities. Specialised markets in London cater for different communities with their supply of traditional spices, oils, fruit and vegetables.
5. Community provision
Providing social infrastructure tailored specifically for the Latin American community is an essential step in recognising their needs, culture and long-standing presence at the Elephant and Castle.
A range of facilities and services should include a community centre, affordable premises for community and voluntary organisations, open and play space, as well as training, education and language support programmes.
A community centre would provide the premises for organising meetings, events, an information and support point, as well as office space for voluntary sector organisations. Using existing or forthcoming facilities such as the Shopping Centre or Crossway Church which will be redeveloped next to Eagle’s Yard would ensure the integration and collaboration with other communities.
Another option for hosting these services and activities would be the containers at Elephant Artworks, set up as an interim use on the Heygate redevelopment site.
Provision for young people is also needed in the Latin Quarter and it should include a football pitch in the Elephant Park which will be developed as part of the regeneration of the area, childcare facilities in close proximity to the businesses, as a large proportion of the traders are women, as well as training and education programmes.
Festivals and celebrations of Latin American culture should be supported by the council, developers and other partners, as an integral part of community life.
Read the full report here.