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Harrup architects get RIBA award for restoring ‘High St 2012’ back to 1900

PUBLISHED: 15:45 22 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:45 22 May 2014

2014 Whitechapel High Street... restored

2014 Whitechapel High Street... restored

©Â VIEW PICTURES LTD.Dennis Gilbert

Rows of lovingly-restored Victorian shop-fronts along the shabby A11 corridor to east London’s Olympic Park have won a Royal Institute of British Architects award for an East End practice.

2010 Whitechapel High Street... dilapidated2010 Whitechapel High Street... dilapidated

The ambitious ‘High Street 2012’ conservation project from Whitechapel to Bromley-by-Bow was set up to improve the appearance of the three-mile thoroughfare from the City of London.

The scheme by Tower Hamlets council with English Heritage and the Greater London Authority is due to be completed next month.

But it has already won an ‘excellence’ award for Julian Harrap Architects in Shoreditch, specialising in historic building restorations, who were hired to bring the run-down terraces of shops back to their original 1900 glory.

“Our aim was to transform perceptions of the A11 to encourage positive change and stimulate investment,” project architect Sean Buick explained. “The ‘High Street 2012’ scheme is set to become a benchmark for other High Street regeneration projects.”

Most of the original 70 shop-fronts that were restored had been removed or drastically altered over the past 11 decades.

Original features were covered over with modern aluminium fittings and external security shutters.

Strip lighting obscured the original charm and elegance, while the storeys above the shops were neglected and dilapidated.

The selected terraces along Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road and Bow Road have now been restored to their original appearance when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.

Even missing architectural elements like cornices, moulded window surrounds, sash windows and other decorative elements have been replaced.

New shop-fronts modelled on original timber framed designs have been installed, along with original fascias, hand-written signs and traditional Victorian awnings.

But flexibility has been built into the designs by the architects, so they are suitable for future commercial tenants in the 21st century.

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