Culture Mile - Look and Feel Strategy

A strategic document to guide the development of a new cultural district in Central London; it outlines a vision for the public realm and recommends projects that would realise the vision.

‘Culture Mile’ was officially launched on the 20th July 2017, and a brand approach was completed by Jane Wentworth Associates and Pentagram which set out four clear values for the Culture Mile:
1. Joined-up
2. Generous
3. Agile
4. Experimental

The Strategy builds upon these values to provide an approach for creating an unrivalled visitor experience. It describes how the area can best capitalise on major new developments, such as the future Museum of London at West Smithfield and the increased footfall anticipated through the arrival of Crossrail.

A critical element to the success of the Strategy that will inform the public realm improvements for the new ‘Cultural Mile’ was the creation of drivers to deliver pedestrian cultural experiences within a safe and secure environment so the area becomes a place of choice to visit at any time, not just for one-off events.

Arup was an intrinsic part of an integrated team from the inception to completion of the project to develop and underpin the Strategy throughout, embedding the notion of people first, to drive forward the creation of places to foster an increased sense of belonging for existing residents and visitors alike. This notion resulted in fostering one of the key aims to ‘Take the Inside Out’, to showcase the wealth of cultural assets within the area.

Culture Mile is the home of major world-class cultural institutions such as the Barbican Centre and its resident orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Museum of London and the proposed Centre for Music.

The area is diverse and one key aim of the work will be to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of the spaces whilst simultaneously bringing the different areas together into a coherent whole.

The Strategy focused on Beech Street, a key east-west route through the area which is vehicular dominated, passing beneath the podium decks of the Barbican. The Strategy proposes to reinvent Beech Street as the Culture Spine to deliver good ground level connections as well as a pedestrian and cycle-friendly environment.

The Culture Spine will act as a wayfinding structure for visitors engage with a series of different experiences taking place along its length. It will ensure key sites such as St Paul’s and LSO St Luke’s are inextricably linked to the heart of the area along enhanced north-south streets. It will help create a richer kind of wealth, made up of shared creativity, inclusive experiences and dynamic relationships. Localised urban greening will punctuate it to act as key nodal points for orientation ad meeting points allowing for people to congregate.

Culture Mile will support local communities through projects and activities that involve local people and local businesses. It will continue to expand the learning and education work of the partners into the public realm.

This approach will animate the streets, offers apertures into the area’s hidden activities and creates a destination for both generating and consuming culture. It will also help to draw the outside in and increase footfall of the daytime visitors and work population to the cultural institutions from wider attractors in the area such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the future Crossrail stations.

The Strategy establishes the approach of ‘people first’ at the heart of the project - with its adoption by the City of London commencing to promote pedestrian-focused proposals both in the existing public realm and future development for the area.


  • Project Name

    Culture Mile - Look and Feel Strategy

  • Location

    Central London

  • Category


  • Landscape Architect

    Ove Arup & Partners Ltd

  • Client

    City of London - Corporation of London

  • Brief

    The aim of the project was to set out a clear Look and Feel Strategy (hereafter referred to as the Strategy) that outlined a vision for transforming the public realm - changing a place from looking tired, and disjointed, to fresh, lively and welcoming. The area of the City is to become artistic, creative, innovative, and family-friendly as well as worker-friendly, and welcoming for people who may not usually come into the City. The brief established the production of a Strategy to guide public realm improvements that are appropriate for a new cultural hub (to be known as Culture Mile). The Strategy was to promote an overall vision for public realm in the area at a strategic level, with recommended specific public realm projects that would realise the vision.

  • Awards

    Finalist, Landscape Institute Awards 2019


  • Project Team

    Fluid (Project Lead), with; Arup (Landscape Architecture, Security, Digital Services) Alan Baxter (Heritage and Transport) Contemporary Arts Society Seam (Lighting)

  • Local planning authority or government body

    Greater London Authority

  • Year Completed


  • Project Size

    50 ha

  • Contract Value

    Circa £130,000 (For all Services) / Landscape Architecture circa £13,000

  • Ove Arup & Partners Ltd

    Registered Practice - (21 + Employees)
  • Approximate Map Location


    Central London

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