Project in Focus: Paddington Central
The Paddington area of London, bordered by the Grand Union Canal and with excellent transport links to both the West End and Heathrow Airport, has received significant investment over the last two years. New office space has been built alongside a refreshed streetscape, with new lighting, street furniture, paving and cladding. Paddington Central, the latest addition to this series of work, has recently been completed by renowned property developers British Land and Merson-ASG were delighted to be a part of its inception. 

Paddington Central is a mixed-use space comprising restaurants, retail outlets and leisure facilities. It is also host to a wide range of community initiatives such as open-air theatre and educational tours of the canal. With so much going on it was crucial for British Land and Portland Design to develop the space in a sympathetic and adaptable way, with a bespoke wayfinding scheme. Working alongside Portland Design, Merson-ASG initially produced a detailed construction design strategy, before manufacturing and installing a bespoke and innovative collection of wayfinding and information signage across the 11-acre site. 

Merson engaged with Portland Design in August 2015 to develop construction drawings based on early concept visuals provided by Portland Design. This stage relied upon the Design Studio’s skilled use of Solidworks to provide the client with detailed 3D models of each sign type. Due to the complexity of the project it took almost a year to work through the design iterations, produce samples and gain planning consent before our construction designs were approved and Portland’s designs could be turned into reality.

The final wayfinding scheme comprised wall mounted and totem signs, each with timber frames made from kiln-dried European Oak to give a natural and perhaps more rustic feel to the city-centre area. The fabrication of these signs presented a manufacturing innovation for Merson-ASG as it required bespoke skills more akin to furniture-making than traditional sign-making; we were fortunate to draw upon the expertise of several workshop team members with experience in this area. The signs also contained artificial floral greenery which increased their visual appeal and connected them to the real plants dotted around the buildings, most spectacularly in the forms of ‘living walls’. Toughened glass panels with a decoration applied to the reverse ensured that the signs were strong enough to withstand the city-centre environment. In this way, the signs were both functional and tactile and are sure to be a talking point for visitors to Paddington Central. 

This aesthetic, with its clever application of green spaces, wood and plants, accomplished British Land’s intention to create a space for outdoor living in the city. The signage and wayfinding family successfully replaced a long-outdated scheme and improved visitor navigation in and around the site whilst establishing a clear sense of place, a characteristic feature of British Land developments.

Merson-ASG are very pleased with the finished project which provided an interesting challenge at each stage and hope to work on similar projects in the future.

*Images by Patrick Thimbleby Photography