Happy Street – the transformation of a south London railway bridge by visual artist Yinka Ilori – is the outcome of a design competition organised by the London Festival of Architecture and Wandsworth Council. It also forms part of a larger initiative to improve the public realm around Nine Elms and Thessaly Road in Battersea.
Conceived as an interactive, multi-sensory installation, the project has transformed a gloomy railway bridge and underpass into a bright and welcoming environment for the local community, pedestrians and road users. The underpass walls and bridge sides are clad with 56 richly patterned vitreous enamel panels using 16 different colours.
The structure is illuminated at night providing a new local landmark and giving users a greater sense of safety and visual enjoyment. One of the artist’s aims is to encourage passersby to become more aware of their surroundings. The brightly coloured cladding panels, for example, are intended to evoke to spectacular sunsets on the River Thames seen from Nine Elms.
“I am really honoured and blessed to have my first public realm project installed in Nine Elms, Battersea”, said Ilori. “The most important part of the project was talking to the community, especially the young children [of St George’s Church of England Primary School] and seeing the smiles on their faces when they walk under the bridge has been magical. I hope the bridge continues to bring happiness to everyone who walks under Happy Street and inspires the next generation of young artists, because they are the future.”