A derelict canal basin is now a well-designed and useful public space after Whitelaw Turkington, part of the Grontmij group, helped to breathe new life into the area

The new civic square at Islington basin
The new civic square at Islington basin

The city basin in Islington, north London, was closed off to the public for a century but it was then given a multimillion pound overhaul. It now has a civic square and promenade along Regent’s Canal, giving local people pedestrian access to the waterway.

Yorkstone was used to pave the public area, in accordance with local authority rules, and it features semi-mature trees which sit in granite-clad plant pots. Whitelaw Turkington worked with Bennetts Architects and URS engineers to put high-polished blue brick cladding onto the substation at the site, and the building’s three chimneys are lit up with coloured lights after dark.

Alex Comrie from Whitelaw Turkington said: “We wanted to design a public realm that is unique to the local area and matches the demand for more green space in Islington. Once the other commercial and residential developments are up and running, the city basin will really be utilised to its full potential.”

The firm spent two years working with Groveworld, Miller Developments and British Waterways to overhaul the site. The public area was opened in 2009 as the first stage in a masterplan to regenerate the basin.

Islington council says that the condition of the former industrial land declined in the 1950s and 1960s. It was left undeveloped until 2004, when the local authority adopted a masterplan to reclaim the site.

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