Our website uses cookies that do not collect personal data. Find out more.

Accept and Close

The Indies Route

We were commissioned by the Colchester Business Improvement District (BID) to develop a strategy that would support the unique independent businesses clustered along the narrow medieval streets of the city centre. Our report, based on research with businesses as well as analysis of the physical condition of the city centre, proposing a range of interventions to improve identity, public-realm and place-making as well as to support businesses to help themselves.

The recommendations have now started to be implemented - including lighting installations, parklets, shopfront improvement grants, support packs for new businesses and two site-specific new artworks to highlight the 'gateways' to the independent lanes. Other more substantial recommendations were included in the Town Deal bid, which was successful in achieving £19.2m of Government funding, such as kerbless streets and improved areas of public realm in the town.

We worked with local artists Nicola Burrell and Ben Coode-Adams to create distinctive landmarks that invite visitors to explore the independent shopping 'lanes' and also address the lack of wayfinding signage in the area. Central to the 'Indies' strategy was to showcase and celebrate the unique talents of local artists, makers and businesses rather than using generic commercial products and signage.

Nicola Burrell's piece at the junction of Short Wyre St, Queen St and St Botolph's St was installed in Spring 2022. A stainless steel arch across the street, it features illuminated hanging lanterns displaying the street names and hand built 'building' elements referencing the streets within the route.

Ben Coode-Adam's work, a painted steel relief sculpture sited on Sir Isaac's Walk, is a vibrant hand-forged and painted galvanised steel relief sculpture referencing a range of real and mythical figures from Colchester's past. Rich in detail, its affinities range from Anglo-Saxon jewellery to graffiti tags and it is an eye-catching and arresting addition to the streetscape.

Photography: Thierry Bal & Polly Alderton