Skip to content

Railton Road Street Furniture Co-Design

  • by

In May 2022, I had the privilege of facilitating 4 co-design sessions for street furniture on Railton and Atlantic roads in Lambeth. The project brief was simple – design and build seating and cycle parking stands for Railton Road. The non-negotiables were that the designs needed to be informed by local people and the end product needed to be delivered by a local business.

For Lambeth Council this wasn’t simply about installing a couple of seats, this was about providing infrastructure that supported that transport plan and ensuring that the designs were inherently local from the design to the delivery.

Railton Road is a very important road in London’s landscape and history and it was imperative that the eventual design reflected the local heritage and culture. We used some of the sessions to reflect on the collective knowledge of the local area and the tapestry of the respondent’s experiences really informed the collective understanding of the significance of Railton Road. We also used the sessions to work through the practical elements of the design from the height of the benches to the types of materials needed to complete the project. All of the insights where then collated to develop an approach that reflected the insights from the participants and met Lambeth Council’s technical guidelines.

The Challenges

Like any project, the journey was not without a few bumps in the road. The Brixton riots and the iconic image of the burning police car are significant but polarising. While some participants viewed the image of the burning police car as powerful and a symbol of defiance and change, others not only remembered the sights and sounds of the uprising but also queried whether or not change had actually been achieved. As a group we had to determine how to acknowledge this key moment in history without romanticising it.

Then there were the technical challenges of converting the collective design in a way that met would not only meet Lambeth Councils technical standards but also stand the test of time and the elements. In some respects, the technical requirements hampered some of the creativity that emerged from the sessions.

The End Result

Using a combination of upcycled wood and locally manufactured steel, a bench and bike rack were installed on Railton Road in December of 2022. The colours were selected based on how well they would maintain their hue over the years and the panels were treated for extra durability. Themes from the co-design process were converted into designs that were painted onto panels of the furniture.

Facilitating such a culturally important project was insightful. There are so many assumptions that could have been made regarding the design of this furniture, but I believe that giving people the space to inform the design introduced aspects that may have been overlooked. It goes without saying but no one knows the local roads as the well as the people who use them.


My contribution was just a small part of the overall project. The metal aspects of the furniture were manufactured by Vinnie’s Metalworks, Father Nature installed the foliage near the street furniture, architectural designer Ophelia Gisquet helped to bring the design ideas to life and InUse-ReUse produced and installed the furniture – liaising with Lambeth Council during the entire process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *