I have just posted some images that I took at the tolworth underpass over the last week. Tolworth is a very interesting spot full of contrasts and juxtaposition- a real mish mash of people, retail outlets and restaurant options, all the while encapsulated with a ridiculously busy traffic junction, that from observation, never seems to sleep! On initial observation I think we, as a group made the judgement that Tolworth was quite an undesirable area, thrown together. We found stories about anti-social, aggressive behaviour and allowed that to impact our impression. Also my first view of the area was standing in the dimly lit underpass with the noise of the traffic above me! However after our brainstorming session on Monday we got down to business deciding to get some facts about the area, the people and what goes on there in a bid to maybe improve an element of the area.
So our second trip involved noting the different businesses within the area- a lot of international grocery stores and multicultural eateries combined with the usual hair dressers, estate agents and pharmacies as well as a giant M&S. I was there at rush hour time between 4.30 and 7.30. I got to speak to and observe many types of people of varying ages, race and sex. By being able to survey different people we got a good feel for the area. The general concensus that I got was that most people would definately not want to spend their recreational time in amongst the whizzing of cars on the roundabout park. In fact one woman told us that she tried it one time- she wanted to get some fresh air at lunch time and tried to visualise that she was in some exotic place.....but unfortunatley her imagination wasnt strong enough!! the noise really is quite overpowering. Also a lot of people didnt feel very safe walking through the underpass at night- one girls reason was that if she got attacked no-one would be ablee to hear her screams. The main suggestions people gave for improvements were to have the walkways open and over the road ( bridges) as opposed to underpasses or to have better lighting. What I didn't like was the steel bubbles that I have photographed. Their aim is to mirror oncoming people but for me they were quite eery and unclear, if you were walking at night alone you wouldnt be able to see if anyone was hiding or not!
I was pleasantly surprised by the politeness of people, especially as they were being stopped in a dark underpass on their way home from work and being asked to do a survey.....I was expecting a lot more rude rejections but I luckily didnt get any! Myself and Susanna also monitered the age, race and gender of people passing by between 6pm and 7pm to try and get a better picture of the local inhabitants. Again it was very mixed. Now we need to assess everybodys findings and see what we can come up with.....