NPA were the lead creative designers alongside Arup engineers to design a comprehensive renewal of Canal Walk and Regent Street, key pedestrian retail areas within Swindon town centre, in order to regenerate the tired 1980s public realm and serve as a stimulus for the retail economy.

The design for Canal Walk design invokes the memory of the old Wilts and Berks Canal route which formerly ran through the area. The design stripped the congested street free of visual and physical clutter introducing a simple palette of quality natural stone paving with gently curving bands of contrasting stone reflecting the dynamics of pedestrian movement. Foliage is provided by street trees and living green walls suspended above the street.

Working with public artists, the street reflects the former canal through text engravings, water droplet pavement markings and a weather-responsive lighting design embedded within the paving.  At Jubilee Square a new landmark water feature inspires public interaction at a key pedestrian node.

In the Regent Street design an historic local tram line is a motif for the movement in the street, using staggered lines of contrasting natural stone. Elliptical pavement islands with contemporary street furniture form defensible resting spaces for shoppers. New trees bring shelter, visual interest and foliage. A specialist artist helped design the feature lighting.

An animation was produced in collaboration with NPA to show a street ‘fly-through’ enabling the client and community to better understand the scheme.

Canal Walk was completed in 2010 and Regent Street 2011.  Since then, according to a Colliers International survey, footfall increased in Regent Street by 6.6% between 2008/09 and 2010/11, this being the highest increase of all town centres they surveyed demonstrating major added value to the project.

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