Whitechapel market, located between Vallance Road on the west and Cambridge Heath Road on the east, is a vibrant and diverse local urban destination that attracts both regular visitors as well as people from all over London. The market on the north side of Whitechapel Road and opposite the Royal London Hospital, stands behind a line of mature trees and exists as an informal bricolage of folding tables and plastic tarps. Its vitality and energy create a unique atmosphere that epitomizes the industrious nature of East London’s multi-cultural heritage. Vitality of the street scene aside, the street is in need of urban redevelopment. In particular, when the market is not in use the north side of the street is barren. Its lack of trees and street furnishings, like park benches and pedestrian lighting, contributes to an overall feeling of neglect.
The proposal is for a new market infrastructure to be created, comprised of a collection of lightweight steel canopies forming large connected canopies, with smaller scale covered canopies arranged along the length of the market area itself. At the urban scale, these new steel canopies will provide shelter like large trees on the south side of Whitechapel Road. The canopies will also provide implicit organizational order that allows for the informality of the market to exist while creating a visually cohesive expression for the Whitechapel market. They will also integrate lighting to create a well-illuminated pathway at night. Viewed together, these steel canopies create a 500m long urban landmark and will amplify the presence of the existing market to a new destination for London’s east side.