An underground plaza boasting a restaurant, cinema and running track; drone racing; and the creation of a subterranean mushroom farm; have been crowned the winning concepts in the Reimagine Croydon’s Subways competition.
The three innovative ideas beat competition from a variety of creative suggestions put forward as potential ways the six subways located around Croydon town centre could be revitalised and brought back into use.
As part of the competition, the public were invited to submit ideas in three categories; professionals, non-professionals and under-18s. More than 40 proposals were submitted across the categories and a selection were shortlisted for public feedback and to go before the judging panel.
Croydon Lives won the professional category. Created by Abigail Watts-Cherry, the concept sees the subways re-purposed into a variety of spaces specific to the area in which they are located. For example, the subway located next to Fairfield Halls would be transformed into Croydon Performs, a cinema auditorium that could screen locally-made and independent films; Croydon Runs would see the Park Lane Gyratory become an underground running track with a marked circuit for people to exercise, while the Lansdowne Road subway, that links Wellesley Road with the Whitgift Shopping Centre, would become Croydon Shops, a shopping corridor with fold-away market stalls.
Subterranean Mushroom Farm, submitted by Andrew Dickinson, won the non-professional category and could see the urban mushroom farm currently at Church Road replicated within a subway. The initiative would take used coffee grounds collected from town centre retailers and use them to grow oyster mushrooms – Cr’Oysters, which would then be sold to restaurants and cafes around the borough.
Twelve-year-old Gemma, a student at Riddlesdown Collegiate, won the under-18s category with her Drone Racers concept. Her idea sees the subway tunnels come to life as the venue for drone races, with LED lights used to mark out a race course within the subway.
Croydon Lives and the Subterranean Mushroom Farm will each receive a £500 prize, and the Drone Racers will receive a £500 prize that can either be donated to a charity, school or a community group fund of their choice.
Croydon’s Talents, a mural made up of the images of Croydon’s most successful musicians, artists, rappers and spoken word artists, was the competition runner-up and will receive a £100 prize.
Architect Ms Watts-Cherry said she now wants to be able to turn her Croydon Lives ideas into reality. The 29-year-old said: “I’m really happy to have won; I worked really hard on it. A lot of people I have spoken to like the running track, but for me I think I would prefer the pop-up restaurant and street art gallery. I think it could really happen; I’m always telling people how great Croydon both is and will be.”
“We shortlisted some fantastic ideas, but these winning concepts really stood out, and from the feedback we received, captured the public’s imagination and support too. It’s been a really exciting project and we’ll now be working to see if we can bring their fantastic ideas to life for the people of Croydon to enjoy.”
Councillor Paul Scott, cabinet lead for planning and regeneration
For more information on the competition winners, visit the council website.