Van Gogh Walk is a community street created to ‘green’ the neighbourhood of Lambeth, South West London. The street was designed to encourage walking and cycling and promote a friendly active community in the area where world-famous artist Vincent Van Gogh lived when he was in London in 1873.

Van Gogh Walk is a resident-led project in Stockwell that has transformed a traditional London street into a new community space where people meet and children play. Trees, planters, playful sculptures and shared surfaces are some of the features in this award winning space.

Van Gogh Walk, completed in 2013, is a transmigration of Isabel Street SW9 and offers a regenerated space in an area of London where many people simply don’t have gardens of their own.

The brief

The Resident group, Streets Ahead worked with Lambeth Council’s design team to create a communal outside space that would offer a cleaner, greener, safer community area. The landscaping is inspired by Vincent Van Gogh and his enjoyment of nature as a peaceful retreat away from city life.

Materials used

Hardscape supplied a mix of hard-wearing 150mm x 150/300mm x 80mm granite setts including Eaglet Red, Kobra, Royal White and Magma to portray a colourful mix to replicate the artist’s palette. Crystal Black granite was used as a contrasting granite for the Artscape features including curved walling and stepping stones for children to walk on. Contractors FM Conway were hired to carry out the transformation and regeneration of the award-winning area. Shape Landscape Architecture were responsible for design of planting and the majority of play elements.

The end result

The development has encouraged local people to enjoy the area and they can now safely walk, cycle or play outside. Part of the street is now completely closed to motor traffic and in the rest of the area, as well as traditional methods to slow passing cars, there is a focus on encouraging social use, and improving quality of life. Trees, planters, playful sculptures and shared surfaces all signal to drivers that they are guests sharing the space, encouraging careful and considerate driving. There is still room for informal ball games and there is a basketball hoop on the carriageway.

Planting and features were inspired by Van Gogh’s paintings, and quotes from the letters he wrote, such as: “I have a wonderful home”, when he lived here, are carved around the edges of the planters. Cypress and olive trees, grasses, colourful shrubs and perennials were planted in March 2013 and have become well-established over the months and years since they were introduced.

Hardscape Group Technical Manager, Asil Besim said: “This was a really exciting project to work on involving multiple granite materials and design techniques. It took weeks of careful work to lay out Van Gogh’s thoughts around three semi-circular granite benches. Working closely with Lambeth’s Transportation Department, we were able to integrate them within the new scheme. We’re proud to have been part of creating the revitalised area that tells part of the story of Van Gogh’s life, and that we have helped to create a community space to treasure for years to come.”

Client Team: Lambeth Council, Streets Ahead (Residents Group); Landscape Architects: Shape Landscape Architecture; Paving Contractors: FM Conway; Paving materials supplier: Hardscape