Coffey Architects were invited to produce design proposals for an under-utilised car park located at Shopping City in Runcorn, England as part of the internationally recognised, design-led competition ‘Forgotten Spaces’.


The design ideas aim to create new life in the town’s old infrastructure, working with the NHS England ‘New Healthy Town’ initiative to promote major regeneration centred around health and wellbeing. Our proposals enable healthy play at the heart of re-connecting the community.


The common perception of Runcorn’s Shopping City is of slabs of concrete and dull grey buildings disconnected by motorways. It has been said to have ‘an air of dereliction and desertion’ and many believe it is difficult to access by foot. Following a personal journey through Runcorn, however, Coffey Architects’ director Phil Coffey found the surrounding area provided a positive sequence of revelations such as the historic old town, industrial bridges and the Manchester Shipping Canal, which he wanted to connect and make accessible through leisure. Our proposals prove Runcorn is already running to improve.

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Shopping City to Running City

New life is brought into the vacant car park structure by transforming it into a vibrant culture centre for sports and wellbeing.

Grids of demarcation that clean the air

New, applied grids and markers help initiate different activities within the existing parking structure. 'Airlite' is used for the markings – a product that is applied like normal paint but without odours or chemicals (VOCs). Once applied, Airlite replicates the reactions that occur in nature to purify the air.

The running routes

From the outset, by simply demarcating the running route, Shopping City's 1km car park climb is accessible for the local community to use. Extended over the remaining derelict carparks and Shopping City, the route can be extended to 5km. The reconnection between the new and old town is reinstated by a 10km route which starts and finishes from Shopping City.

The Run(corn) Marathon

Our designs literally pave the way for a potential (Run)corn marathon. The new route would take runners through the old and new town, reestablishing a green corridor by connecting the surrounding nature reserves, parks and the marina.

1km markers on the 10km route project the runners' positions onto the ground.

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