Van Gogh Walk

Van Gogh Walk is a multi award winning scheme.

Van Gogh Walk is a shared surface public realm scheme in London Borough of Lambeth. Between Liberty Street and Morat Street, the area is physically blocked to vehicles by kerb height planting areas. Spaces are provided for passage of bicycles, wheelchairs, and buggies. There are play features for children, which include stepping stones with 1 to 10 numbers, stepping waves, and climbing posts. There are also a couple of chairs for sitting. Between Morat Street and Hackford Road, the road surface is shared with vehicles. The large raised planters against the school wall on the Southern side of the street are also suitable for sitting. There is also a ball play area at junction with Morat Street. There is a set of gullies with unique design that feed rain water to the planters first and then the overflow is discharged normally to the main sewer. Specially designed signs showing a lady with a buggy and a boy playing with a ball warn motorists of the shared surface.
The current design and build was completed in a record time of less than a year. Van Gogh Walk is part of the Grass Routes 20mph Zone. Prior to this project, this street was known as Isabel Street. Van Gogh Walk boasts high quality materials, excellent workmanship, and a unique design featuring play area for younger children, a ball play area for older children (and adults), seating, part pedestrianised area, and a lot of greening.


Latitude: 51°28'30.38"N  Longitude: 0° 6'57.96"W        Click to view in Google Maps

 Design Inspiration

For those who really want to know about the circles in the design, the visualisation below, done when I was developing the design, would be a good explanation:

For the rest, Van Gogh, the world famous painter, used to live just 50 metres from Isabel Street (Click here to see where).  When I started to develop initial designs, the idea was to use different features from Van Gogh's paintings.  One idea was to create a sunflower pattern on the ground with blocks (shown below).  Planting areas and street furniture (e.g. benches from the paintings) could be added on top. 

Sunflower design overlaid on Google Maps


Overview of sunflower design for Isabel Street


Detail of sunflower design


However this design was abandoned after one member of the project board said that he didn't like it because it looked like the flower patterns on his kitchen tiles.

Following that meeting, Hayden Tuck and I produced six new concept designs for the street:

Circles concept design


Contemporary concept design - 1


Contemporary concept design - 1


Paths concept design


Rings concept design


Curves and rectangles concept design


Perspective visualisation - Curves and rectangles concept design

In the next project board meeting, an agreement was reached to develop a design based on a mix of the concept designs we had presented.  The following concept design was produced for wider public consultation:



Consultation plan

Circles spray painted

Visualisation of concept design.  Raised planters, steps and wave for children were developed later.  Play equipment for children was dropped by the project board.  Wall greening may still happen if the school agrees.

Circles spray painted on Hackford Road junction with Isabel Street

Visualisation of proposed plans (without the Enterprise) for public consultation

Next a 3D model was developed for the proposed plans.  Highly accurate drawings and 3D models of every single stone piece were sent to China through Hardscape, our stone supplier, where the stones were machine cut to required shapes and sizes.



3D model of the play area.  Slide and play area were dropped from the plans and this area is now planted as per design from the planting consultants.

Top view of all the stone pieces assembled

3D model of the stone pieces.  The helical column trellises were dropped from the design

Sheet 1

Sheet 2

Sheet 3

Sheet 4

Sheet 5

Sheet 6

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Sheet 14

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Sheet 16

Sheet 16a

Sheet 17

New Treepit Design


To be continued ...

Project Client: London Borough of Lambeth
Project Manager: George Wright
Chair of resident group/project board: Elaine Kramer
Project Designer: Haibat Abro
Planting and play equipment consultant: Shape
Construction Contractor: Conway
Typographic Consultant: Ian Chilvers, Atelier Works
Granite Supplier: Hardscape
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