The regeneration and public realm works in Military Square, Chatham have very nearly been completed. This involves the installation of 400 bespoke radius-cut monolithic blocks of granite set into 17m diameter circle, putting a circle of words at the centre of a Military Square!
154 of the granite blocks have words, numbers & patterns sandblasted or inset into the surface. Just over 400 words are included –
Local school children & people working in local businesses were asked for their comments.
We listened to them & heard their stories. We listened to the sound of their lives.
There is an overwhelming sense of common ownership in this project.
These words are not ours. They belong to Chatham.
You may know that the aim of this public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. This includes pedestrian and cycle routes as well as crossing points, upgrading paving materials, improving steps and ramps, opening up the public realm and streamlining access and pedestrian permeability.
We have worked within these parameters, using the language of public realm and materials, which are robust and stand the test of time. We have created a quiet ‘narrative’ thread – a story about Chatham – & more specifically about events and places along this route.
We wanted the streets to speak quietly, confidently & with good humour about Chatham…WHAT MAKES A TOWN? …THESE ARE OUR STREETS…part memorial, part living voice…but mostly a celebration of the rich heritage and community of Chatham.
As an artist and designer of public spaces, this project has been an opportunity to influence our surroundings in a way that ‘speaks’ of Chatham and its people. We mostly take our pavements for granted, but these spaces have often developed from historic pathways and tracks linking communities and towns across the wider region. They have a resonance and a ‘voice’, …and echo with history.
The route from the Station to the Waterfront takes us down Railways Street & Military Road – in doing so we pass several key places, such as New Cut (a former farmyard), St John’s (a Grade II Listed Waterloo Church) – Military Square, considered the Heart of the Town. At these important sites, we have made interventions to articulate the granite kerb in ways, which are expressive and of interest, whilst still maintaining functionality.