Windows on Willesden Green

Key Facts:

Project summary: Outer London Fund Project to revitalise Willesden Green High Road working with existing businesses and empty units.

Location: Willesden Green, Brent, London

Programme: Advent calendar of shop-front improvements, the creation of Queens Parade with the activation of eight new retail outlets, workshops and events

Initiator: Mayor of London / LB Brent with The Architecture Foundation, Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting.

Project Duration: 6 months

Lead in Time: Approximately 3 months

Site Area: Varied

Client Team: LB Brent, Design for London

Project Team: The Architecture Foundation, Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting

Funding Sources: Outer London Fund (GLA)

Project Costs (Build):

  • Shop-front improvements £100k
  • Vacant unit improvement £50k

Project Costs (Operation):

  • Local business skills £40k
  • Publicity & Marketing £18k
  • Events & Workshops £6.5k

Profitability/Loss: Not for profit – though shop-front improvements may have led to profits for individual businesses on the High Street.

Permissions / Permits: Signage consent required for some parts of the project.

Local Links: The project worked extensively with existing local businesses, local start ups were given opportunities at Queens Parade and local trainees were involved in the project

Publicity/advertising: Web and print media (30+ nationally covered articles), launch event and local advertising.

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
The project was delivered in two phases, the first making improvements to existing shops along the High Road pairing 25 independently owned shopkeepers with emerging designers to produce an advent calendar of shop-front transformations. The second involved securing a lease on an eight unit parade that had been empty for over 6 months and was on a strategically located site on the High Road. The empty parade was transformed and start up businesses were given the chance to test their ideas in a public facing unit. The first phase involved mixed ownership and in the second phase the lease was owned by Meanwhile Space in order to provide facilities as part of the project.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
The project was aimed at the local community and to revitalise the high street. The launch event for new shops attracted 300+ people and the Christmas events attracted over 5,000.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Shop owners in the initial shop revamp phase were a little apprehensive to work with designers to create the alterations to their businesses, despite them being paid for by the project. However, once the initial shop fronts had been refurbished other shop owners were also eager to get involved in the project.

The project was delivered in a very short time-frame (6 months) and so some more lead-in time would have ensured more engagement with shopkeepers.

Feedback from users / staff:

“The Willesden Green initiative is superb. It is well judged, uplifting and bold. It is part of the great blossoming of projects that are helping to reinvigorate high streets across London.”

Mark Brearley, Design for London

“Thanks for bringing a sparkle back to Willesden”

Local Resident

What next?
Though project funding from the Outer London Fund came to an end after 6 months the project is still continuing. The local stakeholders have begun the formation of the Willesden Green Town Team in order to continue the project over a longer term. Queens Parade is still open and operating.

Complementary Programmes:
Workshops, Library Lab by Architecture OO;/, Architecture Foundation Urban Pioneers education programme

Project Website / Further Info: