News & Insights

Whose Space Is It Anyway?

People sitting on benches in Rochester Riverside

Earlier this month we had a thought-provoking meeting with the landscape designers and lead artist we brought together for a project we’re partnering on, to explore how public art can contribute to a landscaping and planting scheme.

Published date: 30 August 2021

As so many of our discussions do, this made us all think deeply about the ways in which public spaces around affordable homes and new developments need to be mindful of the whole community in which they are situated. We have been following with interest the somewhat controversial Nine Elms regeneration development in London, where it seems that access to some parts of the site have been limited to wealthier residents who can afford to buy the luxury apartments, while those in shared ownership or rental properties feel excluded from their surrounding environment. When planning for public art installations we always give a great deal of consideration to how new communities can be integrated alongside incumbent residents as well as ensuring appropriate arrangements for stewardship of the public realm. On this particular project, our lead artist is keen to explore the potential for creating a community garden as part of the public art commission he produces.

We look forward to seeing the designs take shape and sharing them with you in the coming months.

Meanwhile across Kent at some of the other sites where we also have projects in progress, we are installing a variety of interactive public art commissions that will also be enjoyed by a diverse range of people from all socio-economic backgrounds. Many of these schemes involves trails, seating or structures that invite visitors and residents to enjoy the natural and built environments, giving them a place to relax, meet friends and family, and relax or exercise outdoors or and enjoy inspiring scenery.

For example, at Cambridge Crescent, in Shepway, Maidstone we are pleased to be working with the community to create a narrative that reflects and responds to the site.  A public garden commission will create a trail through the park, with objects and images placed within the landscape to tell the story of the area. You can read more about it in last month’s blog if you missed it. Over at Conningbrook Lakes there will be a bird hide where you can sit and enjoy quiet contemplation. And at Springfield Mill we are developing a heritage trail reflecting the history of papermaking in the area and inviting further exploration.

We are proud to be playing a part in adding to the richness of the public realm at all of these sites and many others that we have worked on in the past. It is always important to us that we do as much as we can to ensure access to art for all through our work with project partners and the artists we commission.

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