MERTHYR TYDFIL LOWER HIGH STREET

The entrance to Merthyr Tydfil High Street was, by common consent, ill-defined, uninviting, traffic-choked and intimidating. Our challenge was to transform it into a café quarter; an open, welcoming community space that could serve as a focal point and allow people to come together, complementing our work in Merthyr to improve the River Taff Corridor.

Merthyr Tydfil Lower High Street

Merthyr Tydfil Lower High Street

The entrance to Merthyr Tydfil High Street was, by common consent, ill-defined, uninviting, traffic-choked and intimidating. Our challenge was to transform it into a café quarter; an open, welcoming community space that could serve as a focal point and allow people to come together, complementing our work in Merthyr to improve the River Taff Corridor.

We created a new square, making the public fundamental to the consultation process, so that not only would the result relate to, but be ‘owned by’ its users: vital for success. The walls blocking St Tydfil Church were replaced with a broad and visually arresting set of gently sloping steps – ideal for sitting. Vehicular access to the High Street was restricted.

Frontages were refurbished. Stunning paving brought a contemporary edge. The town’s history was referenced in bespoke bronze art: from street lamps and pavement panels to bollards and benches. Restaurants and cafes were designed and opened. The Lucy Thomas fountain, revealed and refurbished, turns a focus of vandalism into a focus of hope.

The new square has successfully hosted a continental market and an ‘Icetravaganza’ at Christmas, exactly the focus the Council were aiming for. The space thrives, people congregate, and the vandalism and graffiti, prevalent before, have all but ceased.

We are seeing an increased footfall, and this has done an awful lot to help us weather the recession and protect the town from its worst effects.

Rhian Prosser – Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre Manager

LOCATION: GLAMORGAN

CLIENT: MERTHYR TYDFIL CBC

VALUE: £1.8m

COMPLETION: 2010
SERVICE: LANDSCAPE, URBAN DESIGN, MASTERPLANNING
SECTOR: URBAN REGENERATION
CONTRACTOR: DYER & BUTLER

LANDSCAPE: AUSTIN-SMITH: LORD
STRUCTURES: AECOM
SERVICES: AECOM
COST CONSULTANT: GLEEDS

AWARDS:
2009 BCSC TOWN CENTRE ENVIRONMENT GOLD AWARD
2009 LGN STREET DESIGN AWARD, RUNNER UP
2009 RTPI REGENERATION NETWORK AWARD