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Rejuvenating old Stratford
The regeneration of Stratford isn’t just about creating new buildings and facilities. It’s also about refreshing, re-invigorating and re-inventing what’s already here. So, to complement the visionary developments happening all around the area, there’s an energetic £13 million “public realm” project underway which will transform the look and feel of Stratford.
It’s most startling expression is “The Shoal”, a sculpture which runs for nearly half a kilometre along the Great Eastern Road. It forms a dramatic arrival point outside the station, providing a striking entrance to the Stratford Centre. The sculpture, designed by Studio Egret West, consists of a series of up-lit titanium leaves mounted on sixteen metre-tall poles. They shimmer in the breeze, making this the largest kinetic sculpture in the world.
The famous steam locomotive (known locally as Robert) sits in Meridian Square as a reminder of Stratford’s great railway heritage, and the square has recently been transformed with black granite paving inset with LED lighting. Work will be starting in January 2013 to complete the renewal of Stratford Broadway with high quality granite paving and new planting replacing the current public realm.
Just along the way will be a commemorative statue to Stratford's famous theatre director Joan Littlewood in Theatre Square (currently subject to a competition) and a sleek new façade to the Stratford Picturehouse, and a wider programme of improvements which will animate the spaces and places around Stratford's cultural quarter.
Big change will also be delivered by careful, considered attention to a mass of small details: there will be new walkways, crossings, paving, lighting, planting and street furniture. Improving the public realm in such a coherent way is a critical aspect in the area’s regeneration: it ensures that old Stratford will provide a perfect complement to contemporary developments.