The Deptford Project, London

Farrer Huxley Associates: Market Yard is a new public space in the heart of Deptford, London, incorporating the restored carriage ramp and arches, the oldest railway structure in London. The 14 arches are now home to artisanal businesses, and the ramp will soon provide public access to the rebuilt station. The yard itself hosts a pop-up food market, complementing the existing local street market.

The project Ambitions:

• Rich mix of old and new
• New public place contributing to social, cultural and economic character
• Funded by cross-subsidy from the wider Deptford Project, including 132 new apartments at Octavius House and St. Paul’s House
• New life for redundant structure
This public space forms part of the wider Deptford Project, which includes the rebuilt station, new adjacent Octavius House designed and conversion of St Paul’s House transforming Deptford town centre and strengthening its distinctive local character. The Carriage Ramp was previously derelict and unsafe, and the area was closed to the public. There are three main parts to its transformation into Market Yard.

The carriage ramp

Completed in 1835, the ramp was first built as a means for carriages to reach the station. With the support of the Railway Heritage Trust, the fabric has been restored and made weather-tight and the surface has been repaved with high quality dutch paviours. Low planters have been designed into the ramp with bench seating and fine mesh balustrades have been added to the sides of the ramp. The planters and other metalwork are of Cor-ten steel which complements the tones of the brickwork and paviours. A small newly-built lower portion of the ramp provides a new meaningful connection from the High Street to the existing Carriage Way. PTE complemented the traditional structure and materials, with a steel bridge defining the old and new sections and allowing pedestrian access through the site to the adjacent Douglas Square market and Albany Theatre. The restored ramp provides a grand entrance to Octavius House and will soon provide access to the station at platform level.

The arches

The arches below the ramp were used originally to store the passengers’ carriages and horses. Later they became locomotive and carriage works, a use that was short-lived, for after 1851 all railway repair work was moved to Ashford. In the Second World War the arches were opened-up as air-raid shelters. New shopfronts have been inserted into the restored arches. These feature robust English oak cladding, and doors, set into portal frames, which convert into security shutters after hours. Vertical signage is cleverly incorporated when the doors are open. Internally there has been minimal intervention, with the original brick left exposed including various alterations that were made during the war when the arches were used for shelter.

Market yard

The yard itself has been transformed. What we found in 2012 was a pitied and run down backwater where the businesses plied their trade despite the yard and its condition.
The comprehensive repaving, new drainage and lighting all done in robust materials balances the vernacular of the past, through use of sympathetic quality materials with a forward and optimistic future, by the use of ‘Corten’ Steel and subtle contemporary detailing and design. The final piece is the planted soft seating edge and the 6 large trees that have introduced to just enough nature, seasonal change and summer shade to this edgy and exciting place. The real success is the choreography of the retention of existing businesses and attracting appropriate new. The new vibrancy has been almost immediate yet the effect will be lasting.

Entrant office name: Farrer Huxley Associates

Other design firms involved:
• Client – U+I and London Borough of Lewisham
• Architect: Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTE)
• Structural Engineer: PEP Group
• M&E Consultant: AECOM
• Sustainability Consultant: AECOM
• Contractor: Bower Contracting Limited
• Local authority: London Borough of Lewisham

Key data – £3.4m construction costs
Site area: 0.37Ha
Project location: Deptford, London, UK
Design year: 2012 – 2014
Year Built: 2015 – 2016

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