A collective of architects have won the competition to redevelop the Ambassador House forecourt despite not submitting a ‘finished design’ or having a local connection to Thornton Heath.

The main focus of their submission was about the collaborative process, and their desire to work closely with local people and artists. 

The project is part of regeneration of the High Street and aims to reactivate what has become the uncared for and abandoned gateway in to Thornton Heath.  

The winning CR7 Square team said:“This project offers an exciting opportunity to design from the bottom up, listening and learning from what the community want through a series of workshops and events. With a shared authorship approach we will deliver a community space that truly belongs to the people of Thornton Heath.”

The vacant former JD Wetherspoon pub on the forecourt will be opened on Saturday March 2 between 11-4pm for use by the CR7 Square team for an art workshop, which will discuss the design which has to be completed by April.

They beat off competition from 15 other entries several of which were submitted by local people and included an entry from one of the artists occupying Ambassador House. Entries were awarded 15 per cent for local connection, 30 for the team’s CV and evidence of delivery of similar projects, and 55 for methodology which covered the concept, process and budget considerations.

Interestingly, the judging panel at the council thought it was ‘very exciting’ that the collective did not submit a finalised design and were impressed by their desire for this to emerge through designing and making sessions with the community.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out as there seems to be high expectations and emphasis on the community involvement. The winning team comprising of Compendium, Studio Yu and Tomos, won the £15,000 competition prize to create the meanwhile use project with their: Made in Thornton Heath concept.

The main focus of their submission is to create a strategic framework and toolkit, to ‘help Thornton Heath to succeed in co-authoring a new civic square’ which has a budget of just £75,000.

The winning architectural trio are made up of architects Christopher Paxton who is based in Denmark, Jeremy Yu, who started a job this month with the Croydon Council developer Brick by Brick and designer Tomos Owen. All have worked together on creating pieces for events in London and Copenhagen.

The team’s first move was to sign up the competition as the brief includes art work for two walls. The council review panel thought the designs submitted by Thornton Heath artists Van Dang and Bareface were so fantastic, they wanted to officially involve them in the collaboration. Both created a timeline of  local alumni while Van impressed with her Wynter the White Squirrel theme and Bareface, his Dare to Dream mural. 

As part of the community engagement the CR7 Square team have held a series of ‘listening stations’  in Tesco earlier this month and in the leisure centre last weekend in order to hear people’s ideas for the new public space. Not unsurprisingly many of the ideas suggested have already been kicked around before including: planting more lighting, better waste management, a regular market and play space. Along with a desire for workshops, performance space and outdoor film screenings.

THCAT ran a market on the forecourt and have spent time trying to keep the space clean over the past five years including creating a planted area by the bus stop.