Horsham means a place of horses – a place where horses were bred and pastured. The name Horsham has not changed, in name or spelling, from at least AD 947 when it was first recorded in the Anglo Saxon land charter.
A report by English Heritage, in June 2013, stated: ‘Horsham District Council has identified economic and town centre management as a key pillar in their placemaking strategy and recognises that Horsham’s historic assets provide a unique selling point for the long-term attractiveness and prosperity of the town centre’.
West Street is Horsham’s primary arterial outdoor shopping street, connecting other key retail spaces in the retail area. I was invited by Horsham District Council to review an original chosen wave design in the paving, and with a brief that this placemaking project was strongly horse themed, worked closely with the development team to deliver designs for placemaking narrative, wayfinding and signage.
The key objectives to the overall scheme, which included new lighting and furniture were to:
• Improve economic viability
• Encourage an increase in footfall and dwell time
• Improve circulation and wayfinding in the town
• Help support businesses, job creation and skills development
• Provide memorable and a welcome experience for residents and visitors
• Encourage inward retail and business investment to the town
• Promote an improved retail environment
The schedule and timeline was extremely tight and with the fine work of the project team, contractors, fabricators and designers, the scheme was officially opened on Saturday 16 November 2013.
With all this in mind and with a clear direction to create contemporary scheme design, the following design elements were created:
• A paving wave design that was developed to represent the ‘backs and curves’ of horses – the idea to create a contemporary ‘chalk horse’ design into the paving that gives the wave some meaning and connection. The paving uses a contrasting tegula stone to define the walkway.
• A series of narrative pavings that highlight historical interest of place and people with specific location association and some that are generic to the town. The narratives were researched and written by ‘man of Horsham’ Jeremy Knight, curator of Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, who has a profound knowledge of Horsham history.
• Wayfinding elements in the paving that defined place location and direction fabricated as stainless steel and set into the particular paving material.
• The use of horseshoes that contribute to the Horsham West Street brand with elements of wayfinding – made from stainless steel set in to the paving. These work with the new lighting design, by David Gibbons from Urban Projects, where the horseshoes and lighting work together highlighting the curves of the paving ‘wave’ and which represent the movement of horses through the street. The total number of horseshoes is in the region of 90 which includes three sets of four brass horseshoes set into the paving to represent standing horses.
• Narrative lines of text laser-etched into the street furniture – the benches with lines of historical local interest and planters (planned for installation Spring 2014) which will contain a selection of horse-themed haiku-type poetry from local primary school children.
• The first of a wayfinding totem designed to be strongly Horsham branded with clear, useful information with high legibility values. It includes a newly designed map, with references to key landmarks, distance to places indicated by walking times and an index for specific locations. The totem was fabricated by Woodhouse and is a high quality, robust system which includes the use of vitreous enamel finishes.
With all these new elements, including the new street furniture and contemporary lighting, West Street has been transformed into an engaging, fun and informed public space.
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