Old Street Roundabout Gets A Revamp

You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter. That seems to be the thinking behind the flashy new look slowly taking shape beneath Old Street roundabout.

To say that the underpass and tube entrance are outdated would be an understatement. The whole sorry complex is practically a 1970′s simulator, offering visitors a nostalgic suite of blind corners, abandoned packaging and lichen-infested concrete. The vague scent of uric acid seeps from somewhere, everywhere.

But things are changing. The rebranding jockeys are hard at work, plastering over the grimy walls with a colourful new wrap and hiring out the shop units to small, experimental traders. The project is financed by Transport for London, which is hoping to turn the roundabout into a small ‘retail destination’. Shop specialist Appear Here has been brought in to manage the units.

Seven pop-ups have up-popped so far. Welcome to the hood Mallow and Marsh (marsh mallow purveyors), Spoon {Cereals} (specialists in muesli and unusual parentheses), electric bike company Fully Charged, juicemeisters Cold Pressed, Aussie opticians Bailey Nelson, web development teachers Makers Academy and digital marketers Driftrock. We’re gladdened to find that punning lunch provider NinComSoup is still very much in business, despite the changes, as is the indie bookshop, card shop and the two old sandwich shops.

The underpass has also been chromatically transformed. The bifurcating exits are now numbered 1-4, each carrying a different colour scheme. This is potentially a huge help to partially sighted people, who use the station for Moorfields Eye Hospital. As well as following the traditional green line, they can now look out for the bright orange livery of Exit 4.

If you’re interested in setting up shop beneath the roundabout, prices range from £500 per week for a market stall up to £2,000 per week for a shop unit.

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  • Maz

    As a daily commuter to Old Street, I’m gladdened to see a colourful revival of a fairly dank tube station. However I’m slightly bemused as to how a marshmallow seller will give more benefit to the daily commute than an umbrella (and other miscellaneous “I’ve forgotten that”) stall-holder. And that was a direct replacement. As was a shoe-shop for a bike shop. I don’t know about the financial machinations but are we not replacing traditional vendors with trendy pop-ups? What next – killing off the fruit seller (now with no storage space so he has to lug crates around at 5am to set up or just give up)? I’d prefer my 5 a day to a marshmallow, please. I wish everyone well with in their new ventures but please recognise that Old Street is not a metropolitan hub nor the crux of Shoreditch lifestyle living. Keep the colours, but keep it real.

    • MattFromLondonist

      To be fair, one can still buy umbrellas at the place that also cuts keys. The shoe shop never seemed to have anyone in it, and was a bit of a mis-fit itself, with gents’ shoes priced in the hundreds of pounds. Not sure about the fruit seller. He’s fuelled the Londonist office for many months, but seemed to be absent on our last two visits. I think what’s there now is a good balance of cool, novelty shops and old-school, useful shops, but I don’t know how long that balance will continue.

  • SJ

    Good to see that they are making use of a lot of those sorry looking empty units.
    I’m struggling to see how many “small, experimental traders” would be able to survive there though.
    I’m sure the footfall is great but you’d have to sell a lot of marshmallows and muesli to be able to afford £2k a week….

  • http://www.baika.me/ Baika. Eco Bike Culture

    Great composition

  • Penny

    I think the new design is absolutely gross. The new paint for ‘Subway 4′ is like 70′s Elephant and Castle – huge swathes of pink on the floor which is already grubby. The dark colours make it much more claustrophobic. I used to direct people to my home easily by saying take exit 7 – now I have to say take subway four and ignore where it says St Luke’s to the right, as this is incorrect and take the left to Clerkenwell…..Who wants stalls for muesli and expensive marshmallows? Where’s the fruit seller, where’s his dog? I’ve lived here for over 30 years and whilst it’s not the prettiest of undergrounds, at least it didn’t make me feel closed in and SPOKEN TOO!! yeah! trendy space! Silicon roundabout! Yuk. This is the wrong design. Make it light and spacious and elegant. Or just bland again – an anonymous space. LBI apparently has sold the ‘subway’ to new management. I despair. I cannot believe that this is so…bad!

  • Adam

    How do you leave the house Penny?
    Honestly.. Make the subway elegant? Jeez.

    This is a step in the right direction, but the whole roundabout should be reconfigured and the area made pedestrian friendly and less geared towards traffic flow. The area is changing and changing fast thankfully.

  • Hoxton

    new, more and larger escalators would be very welcome too