Central Parade (Phase 1)

Reviving a local gem to create a cultural hub on the high street

On a prominent crossroads corner at the heart of Walthamstow, a series of disused ground floor spaces have been lovingly refurbished to create a new cultural and creative enterprise hub serving the local community.

The existing 1950s building has distinctive features including a wavy canopy creating a streetfront parade and an elegant clock tower marking the corner with civic presence, adorned with matching patterned tiles. A large part of the ground floor contained an outdated council one-stop shop, meaning the frontage lay inactive.

We stripped back the internal linings of this space; removing false ceilings, carpets, partitioned desks and exposing the original concrete shell to create a generous, robust hall-like space. We also developed a range of bespoke furniture and fittings for the project. Everything was delivered on a tight budget within eight weeks.

Externally, the façade has been respectfully upgraded to enhance the character of the existing building. Notably, the underside of the wavy canopy has been painted a vibrant yellow, two new street entrances have been introduced and new signage highlights the change in use.

The architects have had to make strategic and careful decisions where to spend the money and how to control the detail on such a rapid build, which they have done to aplomb.

RIBA London Award, 2018

Central Parade consists of a café run by local bakery Today Bread, four incubator units with subsidised rent for local retail startups, open plan co-working, basement rehearsal / recording studio spaces and two standalone shop units accessed from main thoroughfare Hoe Street. Up to 50 independent creative businesses can be accommodated at any one time.

The incubators have street-facing shop windows and internal glazed bays to the café clad in dark red stained plywood. They are strategically located so that visitors experience a street-like entrance sequence into the building, forming an internal façade to the café by opening directly onto it. This generates a supportive community atmosphere and allows the café to double as an event space.

The interior was stripped back to reveal services, concrete surfaces and the space’s full height.
Interior surfaces were previously covered with a false ceiling, conduits on walls and carpet.
Round glass floor lights to the external terrace above were revealed once ceilings were exposed.

Projects such as Central Parade are essential to safeguarding London’s creative community, both in Walthamstow and across the city more broadly. These important initiatives are critical to retaining a diversity of affordable and inclusive workspaces and complementary uses which are vital to the creative industries, traders and local community.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries
Our very own Nadine and Alice applying a bespoke pattern to the concrete floor.
Our very own Nadine and Alice applying a bespoke pattern to the concrete floor.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the launch event.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the launch event.

We worked closely with graphic designers Polimekanos to develop an identity for the project inspired by the clock tower’s wavy façade tiles. We adapted this into stencilled mats on the café’s polished concrete floor to add an opulent touch.

The scheme was originally proposed as a meanwhile space, intended to be used for just two years. Now much loved by its community, the high-quality design and refurbishment has since led to the building attaining Grade II listed status and permanent inclusion of the spaces.

Further information


Walthamstow, London
Project type
Workplace and learning, Public and civic, Heritage and adaptation
Completed 2016
Floor area


London Borough of Waltham Forest
Gort Scott Team
Fiona Scott, Jay Gort, Susie Hyden, Joe Mac Mahon
Graphic design
Bolt & Heeks
Dirk Lindner


  • RIBA London Award 2018 - Winner
  • NLA Awards 2017: Mayor’s Prize - Winner
  • NLA Awards 2017: Meanwhile - Commended
  • Waltham Forest Design Awards 2017 - Winner

Downloads and links

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The building's main elevation with a new neon sign, facing onto a lawn.

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Harrow Civic Centre, View east from Wealdstone Square