Happy Street artist Yinka Ilori checks rail bridge works

Published: Friday 17th May 19

Work is now under way to transform a dull railway bridge underpass in Wandsworth into a colourful ‘Happy Street’.

London designer Yinka Ilori won the Wandsworth Council commission after consultation with local residents, and his design was chosen by an expert panel as part of London Festival of Architecture.

In collaboration with Network Rail, the fresh new look for the Thessaly Road underpass in SW8 is part of a package of improvement works for the area which will provide a better environment for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.

Artist Yinka Ilori at Thessaly Road bridge in Nine Elms

The 'Happy Street' design has taken inspiration from 16 different types of happiness and includes a rainbow of colours, referring to the bright colours seen during sunsets over the nearby River Thames.

Before work could begin to decorate the rail bridge, old paint had to be removed, corroded steel treated and then primer applied. The colour is now being painted onto the underside of the bridge.

The next stage involves installing enamel panels over the walls to create a new durable and reflective surface.

Family workshops and community festival 

Running alongside the work, Ilori and the architects he is working with are running workshops for local residents where they can find out more about the project and try their hand at their own designs.

There will also be a 'Happy Streets' festival on 13 July to celebrate the redesigned bridge, with live music, performances and entertainment for the whole family. Find out more about the Happy Streets workshops and festival.

Ilori also has a solo exhibition at StudioRCA, Types of Happiness. It is inspired by the Happy Street bridge artwork, with colours and patterns decorating each of his bespoke chairs.

The exhibition also features a scale model of the bridge design and a large-scale drawing of Happy Street, coloured in by Ilori and members of the local Nine Elms community.

Find out more about the Types of Happiness exhibition

An extract from the Happy Street design