We showcase the best entries in our Building [Re]Design competition

This summer Building Design became Building [Re]Design and launched the Stratford Design Challenge.

Redesign Stratford logo 2

We invited you to examine the east London town centre, identify an issue that interested you and had resonance further afield and then - in less than 500 words and one image - propose a solution.

We particularly encouraged early-career architects and students to participate and assembled an influential panel of judges to scrutinise the entries (see box, below).

Here we present more of the nine shortlisted entries.

All the finalists will be celebrated at the Architect of the Year Awards (AYAs) on October 14, when we will also announce the judges’ decision.

Book your tickets to the AYAs here.

Alongside the competition, the Stratford Design Challenge invited leading urban thinkers to contribute to a series of thought leadership pieces. Those published so far can be found here.

>> Also read: Stratford Design Challenge finalists: part I


3/ Rhythm Alley Stratford

By Sanaa Shaikh, Native Studio

0046-Rhythm Alley Stratford - Building [Re]Design

Rhythm Alley Stratford by Sanaa Shaikh, Native Studio

We want to reclaim Stratford. We want to reclaim the urban space within which we live, work and play. We are the marginalised communities from East London that watched our world change in the name of regeneration. We got a Westfield, some of us got jobs at John Lewis. But when you cross Stratford High Street - nothing has changed. The same poverty, deprivation, high crime levels and young people with no prospects and little to do, excluded from the red-line boundary of ‘regeneration’.

We hail from Newham, where pirate radio stations gave rise to the grime scene. Where Dizzee and Wiley came into their own, we broadcast from the rooftops of estates and street corners where no-one would find us, we performed in the warehouses and the REX. Spaces where we were free to express ourselves through music and art. The ‘regeneration’ took these spaces away. Now there is no-where for young people to express themselves, no-where designed with us in mind, no-where we feel comfortable.

We propose a vision of Stratford as ‘rhythm alley’ - a high street emanating the sounds of the young identities that define Stratford and Newham. A tram will run through the middle, removing the large thorough-fare of cars that pass through to create a more intimate, human-centred public route. Pockets of urban spaces will be formed from which we can express ourselves through music. Music from the diverse cultures that flow through Newham - Ragas, Qawwalis, Ska and Afrobeats, to contemporary Grime and Breakbeats. Institutions surround us, but none allow us to perform and develop our informal practices of musical expression. This is why we call for Stratford High street to be reclaimed into a harmonious collection of opportunities for musical engagement. This is our strategy for the revival of our neighbourhood. The true regeneration.

We have identified various moments on Stratford high street where young people often spend time. We propose these be turned into opportunities for artistic expression and performance - places of joy and excitement.

The high street will be scattered with spaces for busking, group acts, musical installations and a range of performance spaces, culminating in a larger performance space with recording facilities. This will sit on the south of Stratford High Street, the side that has been overlooked by the regeneration and that is home to local people and communities that existed long before Westfield came. The new performance space will create a musical hub and focus here, encouraging greater connectivity, activity, life and community-centred revival.

Smaller performance spaces are buffered by landscaping to define and create intimacy. Most importantly such spaces are informal and can be further curated and formed by performers themselves - creating agency and ownership - allowing space to begin to become genuinely public.

The opportunity to cultivate, perform and share music with public audiences fosters community spirit and encourages integration, social cohesion and a chance for the diverse cultures of London to come together.

The proposal actively enables and promotes visibility, participation and agency - the unmentioned social values.


4/ Broadway Drive-Thru Market

By Anna Muray and Jack Lynton-Jenkins of Origin 3 Studio

0090-Broadway DriveThru Market - Building [Re]Design

Broadway Drive-Thru Market by Anna Muray and Jack Lynton-Jenkins of Origin 3 Studio

Broadway Drive-Thru is a benignly disruptive market.

It is rooted in an emergent urban market typology seen across the world, but utilises technology and the pandemic-linked surge in popularity of the ‘Drive-Thru’ to solve contemporary problems.

Stratford Broadway was once a thriving, bustling market and shopping destination. Following years of economic decline in the late 20th Century, and later redevelopment which largely neglected the high street, it now presents a divide: a multi-lane traffic highway, largely impermeable to pedestrians; dividing the eastern side of Stratford from the sleek Olympic Park to the west.

This introduces the question: how do we address car dominance creatively, and allow the free connection of the people of Stratford with the benefits of investment in their town?

Inspired by bustling shopping areas around the world, at the Broadway Drive-Thru cars are forced to slow down to a speed whereby pedestrians can weave safety between them, a scene familiar to many a global traveller. But drivers get something in return, the opportunity to stock up on fresh, locally produced groceries; a chat; and an experience for all of their senses to enliven their commute. Modern technology aids the efficiency of the shopping experience; quickly placing an order by phone or touchscreen, is rewarded by swift delivery to your car window by drone or street vendor.

As for the pedestrians, cyclists and scooterists: after a quick glance, they are free to cross Broadway at will. The division is permeated. Sections of linear farm offer the opportunity to ‘Pick Your Own’ super-local produce and, in contrast to the current wearisome, grey urban realm, offer sensory stimulation - imagine the aromas of cycling home through a greenhouse of tomatoes!


The full set of shortlisted entries will appear on Building Design’s website, our newsletters and social media in the run up to the AYAs. 

All the finalists

Catja de Haas, Catja de Haas Architects

Alcina Lo, Andreas Lechthaler Architecture

Fahad Malik, Wadhal

Lizzie McHugh, EWA

Anna Muray and Jack Lynton-Jenkins, O3S

James Prior, O3S

Sanaa Shaikh, Native Studio

Chris Simmons, Studio Chris Simmons

Kirsty Watt, Gras

lauren_headshots_Stratford Design Challenge judges

The Stratford Design Challenge judges

Pam Alexander, urban regeneration specialist, director of London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Connected Places Catapult, chair of digital community engagement company Commonplace.

Phil Askew, landscape and placemaking director at Peabody working on £8bn Thamesmead regeneration. From 2008-17 he led on the landscape and public realm transformation of the Olympic Park into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Siu-Pei Choi, senior design manager at Wates Residential. Graduating from the Bartlett, she previously worked as an architect at Patel Taylor, Levitt Bernstein, Fraser Brown Mackenna and HTA, specialising in residential and regeneration schemes.

Melissa Dowler, director of Bell Phillips Architects and an external examiner at Greenwich and Westminster architecture schools. She has extensive experience of regeneration and residential projects working with local authorities and private-sector clients.

Kathryn Firth, partner in FPdesign, is an architect and urban designer. She was chief of design at the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) from 2011-14. She also teaches at Harvard and the Bartlett, is a mayor’s design advocate and serves on several design review panels.

Lanre Gbolade is production innovation lead at Stratford-based L&Q and co-founder of Gbolade Design Studio, with experience on large-scale residential projects. He serves on RIBA practice & profession committee and is a founding member of Paradigm Network promoting black and Asian representation in the built environment.

Tom Holbrook, founding partner of 5th Studio which specialises in complex urban regeneration, sustainability and the resilience of cities. Current work includes masterplans around Stratford and the Royal Docks. He is a mayor’s design advocate and professor of architecture and urbanism at RMIT.

Kay Hughes, director of design at HS2 Ltd and the former head of design at the Olympic Delivery Authority and senior project sponsor at the Foreign Office. She was also part of the winning team in the National Infrastructure Commission’s ideas competition for the Oxford-Cambridge arc.

Roland Karthaus, founding director of Matter Architecture which works across sectors and scales and is known for its research including a project with the Ministry of Justice to improve prison design for wellbeing. An architect, urban designer and public sector client, he is also a tutor at the University of East London, a member of the High Streets Task Force and a Design Council expert.

Claire McKeown, project director of V&A East, leading on construction for the museum’s two new venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford – the Waterfront Museum, which is being designed by O’Donnell & Tuomey, and the Collection & Research Centre at Here East, by Diller Scofidio & Renfro.

Simon Tonks, senior associate at RSHP. He was project architect on the Transport for London headquarters at Stratford’s International Quarter London and also worked on the Leadenhalll Building in the City of London. He is currently leading detailed design and delivery of the 220m Qianhai Financial Holdings Tower in China. He has a particular interest in affordable and sustainable residential design.

Leanne Tritton, founder and managing director of ING Media, the built environment communications specialists, and incoming chair of the London Society. She is a regular speaker and writer and has worked in Australia, the USA and the UK.

Keith Waller, development director of Costain and programme director of the government’s Construction Innovation Hub, working with government, academia and industry to transform construction.