Lonely Planet Writer

London’s famous graffiti tunnel to become a focal point of a regeneration project

London’s famous graffiti tunnel has been given a new lease of life as part of a regeneration project around the South Bank area.

It’s now even easier to appreciate the street art in the tunnel. Photo by James French

The tunnel is part of the Leake Street Arches and is London’s largest legal street art area. It’s been showcasing incredible creations for years, including some original work by Banksy, and has long been somewhat of a hidden gem to explore. Now it will be protected as the artistic centrepiece of an entirely new street full of bars, restaurants, cafes and creative centres.

The tunnel became one of the world’s most famous street art spots after Banksy hosted the Cans Festival in 2008, getting 30 artists to turn the tunnel into an ever-changing art gallery. Now 300 metres of the tunnel are professionally lit, making it easier than ever for visitors to appreciate (and post on Instagram of course).

Local light design consultancy Nulty was drafted to showcase the street art. Photo by James French

The lighting was a challenge for lighting design consultancy Nulty, who had to make the lighting strong and flexible enough for any future events and be able to showcase whatever art appears in the future. The colour of the lighting can also be changed to complement the surrounding walls.

The Leake Street Arches lie underneath Waterloo station and links South Bank with Lower Marsh. With the area hugely popular with tourists and locals, developers LCR are regenerating the entire area to provide new amenities that are in demand. Adjacent to the graffiti tunnel, the huge arches previously used for storage are being converted into space for up-and-coming restaurants in the new year – many of whom will be getting their first permanent locations – bars, a creative studio and a custom-built acoustic event space.