Wenlock Barn Estate is the largest estate in the Shoreditch area of central London. The estate suffers from a range of crime and anti-social behaviour problems. The Shoreditch Trust wished to know what kind of changes to the public realm of Wenlock Barn would help tackle its crime and behavioural problems. This meant understanding how the spatial layout design of the estate influenced the behaviour and perceptions of estate users and then developing plans for the transformation of the public realm.
Space Syntax was commissioned to conduct an analysis of the estate, first to diagnose the spatial layout design features that underlay the spiral of decline and second, to identify opportunities for design changes aimed at tackling crime and the fear of crime. We undertook a study of the spatial structure of the estate; the quality of the public realm; and the patterns of pedestrian space use. We met with residents to discuss how these factors influenced their perceptions of crime and security.
Urban form surveys & analysis
– spatial accessibility
– land use
– building frontage
– building entrance location.
Urban function surveys & analysis
– pedestrian movement
– crime data (analysis of police records).
– residents questionnaire
– residents workshops.
Our study demonstrated that, despite the relatively strong connections between the Wenlock Barn Estate and its wider urban context, there were too many complex routes within the estate that diluted and convoluted local movement. The resulting low levels of movement along complex paths created a real and perceived risk of crime and anti-social behaviour, which led to the under-usage of open spaces and an estate-wide fear of crime.
We made a series of recommendations for minor and major design changes aimed at simplifying and consolidating the estate layout. Funding has yet to be found to implement these.