Poet in the City has been working with Steer and Jedco Product Design on a public art project to address severance, and create a thread of common identity in the Paddington area to help reveal and draw visitors to the Grand Union Canalside and its amenities, commissioned by the Paddington Partnership.

More than conventional wayfinding or placemaking, See Paddington graphically integrates locally inspired stories, poetry and art within the urban fabric to create a coherent sense of place, revealing Paddington’s hidden assets and identifying key gateways to the canalside. A series of perforated steel panels, with patterns and stories derived from Paddington’s heritage, culture, people and nature create a narrative trail linking the gateways to the canal. The panels play with light and shadow and respond to passing movement – offering an immersive experience to both entice and engage with visitors.

Poets Jo Bell and Sophie Herxheimer have been commissioned to create unique and personal local narratives that will help guide people through the area.

To create a narrative that will resonate with Paddington’s residents, workers and visitors alike, poets Jo and Sophie will be conversing with local individuals and groups in order to translate their stories into poetic phrases that are applied to the products within the scheme. The trail is centred on three key themes:

  • Nature – highlighting the natural environments, ecosystems and wildlife, revealing the hidden canalside;
  • Heritage – celebrating the industrial past and scientific pioneers that have significantly contributed to developing Paddington and wider society; and
  • Personal connections – uncovering everyday life in Paddington through the eyes of those who know and love the area most.

See Paddington will be a celebration of Paddington’s heritage, people and culture and tell a unique story, with the aspiration to create a lasting legacy that will continue to animate the place and bring people together.

It’s great to work on a design that people will interact with and that tells a unique and
personal story of Paddington, this is a really exciting project to win.

Emily Whiteside, Lead Graphic Designer, Steer

Read more about the project here


Steer is an independent business consultancy working worldwide across cities, infrastructure and transport. We have spent over forty years providing pioneering planning, design and advisory services to government and business. Our design team combine our understanding of people, context and function to deliver innovative, user-centred design which helps to make our cities, transport systems and public places understandable, accessible and enjoyable for all. Our team is led by experienced wayfinding strategists, planners and designers with in-depth technical understanding and experience communicating with clients, stakeholders and communities to successfully deliver engaging, inspiring and lasting projects worldwide.

Jedco and Steer have a long-standing working relationship and collaborative approach working on projects both in the UK and Canada. Over 25 years Jedco has produced many award-winning designs for transit authorities, airports and suppliers of public facing equipment. Jedco aid their clients to navigate the complex nature of many urban design initiatives with project management services to ensure a smooth progression from design to commissioning.

Poet in the City brings poetry to the people and the people to poetry. We help places and people tell their stories, create access to hard ideas, attract radically new audiences, bring about social and behavioural change, and create awe-inspiring large-scale entertainment.

The Paddington Partnership works with local partners, stakeholders and companies to ensure that London's fastest growing and most dynamic location meets the needs of business, visitors and the local community – today and in the future. As one of London's Opportunity Areas, Paddington continues to be the largest area of growth within the City of Westminster, and is already home to major national and global headquarters.
Multiple schemes provided by different developers and development vehicles have created over 2.2 million sq ft of prime office space, with a further 1.3 million sq ft in the pipeline. New homes have already passed 1,500, with another 1,000 in the pipeline. Some of the UK’s biggest names make up the Partnership, with British Land, Derwent London, Tishman Speyer, European Land, CC Land, Yard Nine collaborating to ensure Paddington retains its competitive edge.

Jo Bell is an award-winning poet working across the UK. A performer, playwright and producer, Jo is former director of National Poetry Day. Previously an industrial archaeologist specialising in industrial remains like mines, railways and canals, Jo lives on a narrowboat and is the 2013-15 Canal Laureate of the UK, appointed by the Poetry Society and Canal and River Trust. Her 2015 poetry collection Kith contains many of the poems written during this time. She has read at venues including the Houses of Parliament and Glastonbury Festival. Her poetry can also be seen on a lock in Milnsbridge as part of the Locklines project.

Sophie Herxheimer is an artist and a poet. She’s held residencies for LIFT, Museum of Liverpool, The Migration Museum and Transport for London. Exhibitions include Tate Modern and The National Portrait Gallery. Her work includes creating a 300-metre tablecloth to run the length of Southwark Bridge, featuring hand printed food stories from a thousand Londoners and narrating an episode of The Food Programme from Margate. An ongoing project is collecting stories live in ink from members of the public, by listening and drawing. Recent publications include The Listening Forest and The New Concrete and her latest collection is 60 Lovers to Make and Do, with Henningham Family Press.