Projects Co Mooring Project

Throughout June 2019 as part of the London Festival of Architecture, Westminster City Council and the London Festival of Architecture, in partnership with the Canal and River Trust, delivered a public realm intervention alongside the Grand Union Canal.

The aim was to increase public interest and engagement with the canal, highlighting the opportunities that revitalising this vacant stretch of towpath can offer the Harrow Road community. A comprehensive report on the project will be available via this website in September 2019 and findings from this month long process will be used to inform a wider ‘Canalside Strategy’ for the Harrow Road area.

The month long intervention has proved invaluable in building relationships with key stakeholders, gaining a deeper understanding of local ambitions and collecting qualitative and quantitative data on activity taking place before, after and during the event.

This information will now be used to inform future proposals and assist with securing funding to bring forward permanent changes.

The story below provides a project overview. It is presented in reverse chronological order and organised into three sections:

DELIVERY documents the one month intervention on site

DESIGN sets out the project’s design development and engagement work

DEVELOPMENT describes the initial design brief and competition process



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July 2019 Over 110 people surveyed

Both before and during the project, Westminster City Council carried out engagement and data collection exercises to measure how people use the Canalside. This has provided quantitative and qualitative information that is being used to measure the impact of the intervention and inform future thinking.

Over 110 people took part in a Participant Survey to gather feedback and opinions from the people who spend time in or pass through the space.

In addition, 11 days of surveying were completed by Westminster City Council looking at Stationary Activity Mapping to provide a ‘snapshot’ of how the canal is being used at a given time, both before and during the month long project. A People Moving Count was also completed measuring how many people move through a space and by what means.

This information allows us at assess the effectiveness of the Co Mooring project and allows the evaluation of what is already happening here so that wider potential enhancements to public life can be identified.

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Positive perceptions of the canal increased
tenfold over the course of the month

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The Co Mooring Launch Party and Canalside Forum

The Co Mooring officially launched on 28th June 2019 with a Canalside Forum. This was an opportunity to discuss the use of canals in the 21st Century, with speakers from the local community, WCC, Canal & River Trust and the design industry.

Details of the conversation will be in the final report. Key areas of discussion included the role of the Canal within the local community, the importance of partnerships and need for activity, the challenge of transforming industrial infrastructure into shared public spaces and how ambitious ideas such as floating community hubs could help develop links with communities across London.

Canalside Forum Speakers:
Sir William Atkinson (Chair of CRT Advisory Board Sir William Atkinson)
Robert Sakula (Founder Partner of Ash Sakula)
Sophie Nguyen (Founder of Sophie Nguyen and member of the Westbourne Neighbourhood Forum)
Biljana Savic (Architect, Urban planner, Maida Hill Neighbourhood CIC)
Murray Kerr (Founder of denizen works)
Ruchi Chakravarty (Head of Place Shaping, WCC)
Eric Ellman (Event Chair - Bards on Boats)

Community Programming

A programme of community led events ran for the duration of the festival with the aim of encouraging local residents who would not typically use this area to visit and take part in activities that relate to the Place Plan’s wider objectives. This was seen as an important first step for meaningful public engagement on what future improvements should look like and allowed conversations around wider ambitions for the space.

The Co Mooring design team curated a series of workshops to explore people’s aspirations for the canal, using the space to co-develop these over the one month period.

WCC also worked with Happy Lizzy Events Planning, a local community events organiser, to devise a wider programme of community focused activities accessible to the broadest possible range of local residents.
These included a Tea Dance organised by Open Age, a Canalside Biodiversity walks and ‘Couch to Canal’ fitness sessions ran by Zodiac Arts.

These organised activities were supported by the activity linked to boats moored on the canal including ‘Bards on Boats’ who ran their own events and allowed local organisations to make use of their roof top performance space and a floating bike repair boat.


Download Events Programme


Eleven community and amenity
groups hosted events

The number of people feeling unsafe in the space reduced by 91%

Findings 1

“This is amazing its great to come here for the events. Money well spent”

Brenda, Local Resident and part
of the Open Age community group

Interviews 1
Montage image
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July 2019 Activation of the water

The project was an opportunity to better connect the Harrow Road community with the canal, highlighting it as not only a place of movement and connectivity but one that rich in biodiversity and place that can accommodate a wide range of public activity.

The project tested an alternative policy for Canalside mooring, capturing the community-mindedness of boat users. The Co-Mooring project allowed boaters access to benefits (in this case longer stays) in return for providing a free community amenity or public value. Whilst more work is needed to fully test and explore this concept, the increased activation of boaters led to an improved sense of security and ownership whilst space was provided for free to access bike servicing, yoga sessions and community music events for local people.

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“Performing on the barge at The Co Mooring was a sensational feeling. Being able to vibe with the crowd while floating in water is an experience like no other”


Rhumzy, Musician and Local Resident 


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Negative perception of the canalside reduced by 90%

“It’s a pity its only here for a month. It’s great to have the community here, we lack community space and we need places like these for the community to make use of”


Josephina, Open Age

Interviews 3

Positive words used to describe the Canalside increased by 150%

Findings 3
Findings 4

“I love the colours, and the vibrancy, its great to see people enjoy the space. Having a space like this makes me feel safer to come along the canal.”


May Webber, a Butterfly Specialist who led an ecology walk as part of the intervention

Interviews 2
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Moving forward, the community would like to see more human life here, from everyday activity through to programmed events, live music and a cafe...

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Share the Space, Drop your Pace

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April 2019 Winning Team Selected

We are delighted to announce that a design collective comprising of COMPENDIUM + Studio Yu + + WYD have won the won the competition to create a temporary public realm intervention alongside the Grand Union Canal. The team are based in Copenhagen and London and have a strong track record of pursuing socially useful design as a means of public engagement.

Their winning proposal ‘Co-Mooring’ plans to involve local people and users in all stages of the design process alongside the making and co-curation of a programme of events during the Festival. Their work promises to ask important questions around the activation, public realm improvements and policy changes needed to bring greater vibrancy to the Canal.

Download Proposal


March 2019 Shortlist Announced

Six design teams were shortlisted in March 2019. The teams consisting of Architects, landscape architects, designers and artists will now each develop a design concept for an experimental ‘cross-section’ through the Canal and explain how their installation will connect locals, visitors and passers-by with the canal. A full press release with team profiles can be found here.

The winning team will be announced in April and awarded a total budget of £30,000 plus VAT to develop a feasible design that can be delivered ahead of the Festival in June 2019.

 The shortlisted teams are:

  1. aLL Design
  2. Merrett Houmøller Architects and Jack Wates
  3. The Co Mooring
  5. make:good
  6. Sisters and Tiger


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February 2019 Competition Announced

Westminster Council and The London Festival of Architecture announced a competition for the design of a temporary public realm intervention where the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal meets the Westway. The competition aims to identify a design concept which will increase public interest and engagement with the canal, highlighting the opportunities that revitalising this vacant stretch of towpath can offer the Harrow Road community.

The competition is a precursor to wider improvement, testing ideas and strategies that can inform a permanent solution.

The competition will be judged by an expert panel including:

  • Ruchi Chakravarty (urban design coordinator,  Westminster City Council)
  • Tamsie Thomson (director, London Festival of Architecture)
  • Biljana Savic (local architect and director, Maida Hill Neighbourhood CIC)
  • Hannah Gibbs (enterprise manager, Canal & River Trust)
  • Frances Williams (technical editor, Architects’ Journal)


Download Competition Brief


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