There were a number of factors that dictated the initiation of the revitalization of the Rookes Alley and Castle Street Subways. A major contributor for the redesign was the mounting pressure from local authorities to improve air quality and encourage walkability within the city.
Originally, these subways were dreary, dark and outdated, “drab dungeons,” the UK sign experts at Wallspace would quote. Additionally, these two particular subways are on major walking routes for the local school districts, which influenced the decision to collaborate with students on the redesign.
Initiated by the East Hertfordshire District Council, and grant-funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Wallspace was commissioned to design, fabricate and install a long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing redesign of the subways.
In an attempt to involve the local community, Wallspace’s design team worked closely with four of the local primary and secondary schools to incorporate student artwork into the bespoke design. The interior of the subways would be clad with Dibond aluminum composite panels digitally printed with the student art.
Wallspace describes, “For maximum durability and resistance to vandalism, the decision was made to use printed Dibond Wallspace panels. With the exact same printing and design options as the typical vinyl-wrap method, Dibond panels are extremely hardwearing and reinforced to withstand the elements and ultimately have a longer life span with minimal maintenance.”
Using a baton framework, the Dibond panels were securely fashioned. As vandalism, due to their isolated location, was a potential problem, the panels were laminated with an anti-graffiti coating to combat the issue. The installation was quick and transformed the previously underused and “drab” subways into walkable art galleries, enticing students and encouraging a more walkable community.
The success of this project allowed for an expansion of the program to include more subways systems set for revitalization by Wallspace in the future.
information and photography courtesy of Wallspace UK