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Barking Town Square
East London

6000sqm town square, Winner of the European Prize for Urban Space.

Barking Town Square by muf architecture / art is a public space composed of four key elements, a square, an arboretum, an arcade and a folly wall. The project was delivered as a section 106 agreement as part of a large commercial development in Barking. The scheme includes bespoke detailing, prototyping and servicing that is integrated with the surrounding buildings. At muf, Alison was project architect on this scheme.

Stage with steps that mirror those to the town hall opposite

Civic square

Arboretum pathway lined with cast railings

Arcade with bespoke lights

The scheme comprises of diverse spaces that allow for many types of occupation to coexist at one time. Whilst the civic square of pink granite is deliberately open, with wall mounted lighting and street furniture pushed to its edge, the arboretum is dense and mysterious, taking advantage of the sense of enclosure created by the buildings around it.


Concrete wall. Tree trunk relief

Arcade with bespoke lights by night

Terrazzo promontory with reading bench

The project combines robust and resilient design with bespoke detailing all delivered through a design build contract as part of a commercial development. Prototyped lights create a sense of grandeur whilst bringing a human scale to the arcade. Concrete walls in tree trunk relief mitigate against wind and naturalistic planting is lined with seating and framed by fencing modules that allow children to run through them and adults to lean on them.

Construction hoarding as mock up of steps and arboretum

Arboretum. Concrete tree trunk wall

The public space was delivered in phases over a number of years. Parts of the site were hoarded off for extended periods and this was used as an opportunity to introduce what was to come in subsequent phases of the project and to engage residents in the transformation of their town centre. The hoarding was modelled to mock up the steps that were later built and was lined in a large scale commissioned photograph of a woodland rather than in advertising.