Tag Archives: Urban

Some Chatham Words

You may have seen some of our work embedded into the streetscape along Railway Street. Large scale granite kerbs contain words sandblasted or inlaid into the surface. You may wonder what these words mean, or how they relate to you. Here is a short explanation of how they came about. 

We often talk about words having weight – of text being ‘set in stone’… or ’engraved in stone’…suggesting gravitas, importance, longevity, …we all like a funny ‘one liner’…colloquial, local…distinct Chatham voices…

Well, here in Chatham your words really are being set in stone…for all to read…for years to come –

Chatham Placemaking Project. “A Chatham Barber called Long John…”. Image: Christopher Tipping

Chatham Placemaking Project. “Colin carried coal…”. Image: Christopher Tipping. Words: Rob Young

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. This work was driven by Francis Knight, Public Art Consultants & our project collaborators and consultants to Medway Council, LDA Design and Project Centre. 

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.

Chatham Placemaking Project. 57 Submarines.
Image: Christopher Tipping.

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.

We were keen to hear and to record everyday voices …words spoken by ordinary people – such as ‘the girl who cried when she lost her phone and then cried again when she found it’... ‘the lovey barmaid’ …or ‘Colin, the man who carried coal for charity’…these are the voices of people on the street, passers by, people shopping & passing the time of day. We engaged with people directly in conversation, we overheard the conversations of others, we wrote down and recorded stories and anecdotes we were told.

I was very fortunate to collaborate with other artists on this project. Filmmaker Simon Williams succinctly and with an understated eye for visual language and movement, cleverly framed our project parameters and vision in a series of short films, whilst printmaker Xtina Lamb rendered our architectural vision into graphic patterns & motifs used throughout the scheme. Both artists also live in Chatham, bringing their individual & unique perspectives to play. However, it was the award winning writer Rob Young, who contributed significantly to the embedded text. An astute, profound and funny wordsmith with an ability to engage anyone and everyone, turning their words into poetry along the way.

“The knitter. Whose name is Pearl.

The woman. Who uses the word ‘like?’ As like, punctuation?

The woman. Who said sorry. When you’re the one who pushed in.

The woman. Who draws breath. Then monologues. For an hour.

The waiter. Who had a fling. With a Bride. At her wedding.

The girl. Who cried. All day. When she lost her phone. Then cried again. When she found it.

The boy. Whose Mum. Made him take back the sweets. That he stole.

The man. Who says, I’m mad, me. Who isn’t mad, at all. Just lonely”. Rob Young 2016

 

 

Justin Coe, a poet and writer also contributed, animatedly performing his work directly to camera, whilst walking the route in a film by Simon Williams.

Film still image of Poet & Writer Justin Coe performing his work on Military Road, Chatham. Image: Simon Williams

 

“On his way to his first day of school on Rome Lane

(The name of this road – before the trains came)

And while we’re walking with Dickens – observe the new Church

They’ve called it St Johns. And it will soon be the first

Public building in Chatham lit by electricity!…

Though all the lights went out here by the end of last century…” Justin Coe 2016

 

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.

We referenced times past by collaborating with MALSC (Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre) and other local agencies in searching for site specific text, such as the words of famous visitors & local Luminaries such as Charles Dickens, reminiscing about soldiers marching through the town in regimented rows …’

The oversized granite kerbs we have used here become a metaphor for the continuity of the local community – kerbs being critical in holding roads and pavements in place – they are physically important in maintaining the fabric of our environment –they could almost be described as ‘defensive structures’ maintaining the integrity and safety of our public spaces …reminiscent of the Chatham Lines – the historic defensive structures, forts and earthworks, which offered protection to the people of Medway & especially the Chatham Dockyard …

The granite kerb acts as a threshold between various states …of the pedestrian…and the driver, or moving fast or slow – perceptions of safety & danger…often the original granite kerb is often the only thing left in place when pavements and roads have been re-placed or modernised throughout recent history…the kerb maintains the parameters of how public spaces were managed and maintained. These lines of granite are also ‘our other Chatham Lines…’

More of the kerbstone lies buried beneath the surface than on top of it… and so it is also a rather poignant link between the past and the present…where times and events past lie buried beneath out feet –

Chatham Placemaking Project – granite kerbs being installed on Railway Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

Our work in Chatham set out to find and hear voices and words which quietly & evocatively create a sense of place associated with each of our stopping points on the route from the Station to the Paddock… the power of these voices is amplified by the weight and mass of the monolithic granite.

Left in place, these words will still be here in a hundred years from now…

 

Station Quarter North check-up visit –

Monday 28th September 2015, Station Quarter North, Southampton – 

It’s been a while since I posted an update on the Station Quarter Project

Station Quarter  - A new Gateway to Southampton. Works on site - Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter – A new Gateway to Southampton. Works on site – Image:Christopher Tipping

I met up on site with Simon Taylor – Urban Design Manager, Balfour Beatty Living Places and Pete Boustred  – Transport Policy & Sustainable Travel Team Leader at Southampton City Council. I was first commissioned to work on the interpretive and site responsive elements of the project by Simon at BBLP in 2012.  We have worked together several times previously in the City. BBLP are delivering the project for Southampton City Council.

Massive changes since my last visit if you look at earlier posts, but brilliant to see the project coming together so well. The amphitheatre steps, part of the Phase 2 works on Wyndham Place have arrived and have been lifted into place. There are a number of other structures still with the manufacturer and these are expected to arrive over the coming weeks. The installation of the large-scale  bespoke cast concrete benches, amphitheatre steps and retaining structures manufactured by CCP will continue over the coming weeks. Hopefully I will get down to Southampton again soon to record more progress.

Station Quarter North, Southampton. The view on exiting the Station.  Bespoke cast concrete works being installed on the Station Forecourt as part pf the new public realm and transport hub. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. The view on exiting the Station.
Bespoke cast concrete works being installed on the Station Forecourt as part pf the new public realm and transport hub. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

What was a real pain was that although it was a brilliant blue day – this part of the site was in deep shadow, so the images are a bit too dark to do the work justice !

2015-09-28 15.22.09

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke Cast Concrete Amphitheatre Steps during installation at Wyndham Place. Image:Christopher Tipping

Other cast concrete works are also on site –

These benches are on the Station Forecourt, immediately as you enter or exit the Station building. This is one section of a large curving two tier bench and way-finding feature within the scheme.

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench in multiple sections awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke cast concrete two tier radius bench in multiple sections awaiting final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on the Station Forecourt. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Station Quarter North, Southampton. Bespoke four piece cast concrete radius bench during final installation on Commercial Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

 

 

Station Quarter North, Southampton

This week saw the delivery and installation of the first bespoke cast concrete units to site. Wilson Massie of Balfour Beatty Living Places has let me use his images taken during the works to install. Balfour Beatty Services are delivering and installing all the project on site.

The units are manufactured by CCP Ltd – Cornish Concrete Products, nr Truro.

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North - 'Type C' bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

Southampton Station Quarter North – ‘Type C’ bench units being installed on site by Balfour Beatty Services. Image: Wilson Massie BBLP

 

Station Quarter North, Southampton

Yesterday, Tuesday 17th March saw the first of the Type C cast benches arrive on site to be crane-lifted into place at Station Quarter North.

Balfour Beatty Living Places – Services Division are doing a great job in regard to the installation and delivery of the whole project on site.

‘Outside Wyndham Court a great deal of the footpath and landscaping is down and this gives a glimpse of how the scheme is going to look. Block paving of the public car park has started, trees are in and yesterday the first of the new bespoke stone benches was crane lifted into place.’  Taken from the Southampton Station Quarter update bulletin, 18th March 2015, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place as seen from Wyndham Court showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place as seen from Wyndham Court showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places.

Wyndham Place, Southampton seen from Commercial Road looking west showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Bespoke Cast Concrete benches during installation. Image: Matt Dyer, Senior Project Engineer, Balfour Beatty Living Places - Services Division.

Wyndham Place, Southampton seen from Commercial Road looking west showing Southampton Central Station Quarter Regeneration project. Bespoke Cast Concrete benches during installation. Image: Matt Dyer, Senior Project Engineer, Balfour Beatty Living Places – Services Division.

Bespoke benches during installation. Unfortunately, one of the 6 units has a lighter finish than the others. This can be remedied post installation on site by the manufacturer CPP Ltd.

Station Quarter North, Southampton

On Thursday 12th March I flew down to Newquay to visit CCP Ltd – Cornish Concrete Products –  to review production on the first set of bespoke benches for Southampton Station Quarter.  I was meeting up with Simon Taylor, Urban Design Manager – Southampton Highways Partnership, Balfour Beatty Living Places, who is the Design Manager for the Station Quarter project. Simon met me at Newquay Airport & we drove down to Bissoe to CCP’s manufacturing plant.

Gatwick Airport to Newquay with Flybe - around 55mins - not bad !

Gatwick Airport to Newquay with Flybe – around 55mins – not bad !

I left Ramsgate on High Speed 1 for London, St Pancras, then by Tube to Victoria to pick up the Gatwick Express & Gatwick to Newquay by Twin Prop and from there by car to Bissoe – easy ! A great day – but one delay along the way could have been a disaster – fortunately it was brilliant.

Great views of Southampton and the Isle of Wight on the flight down.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Great views of Southampton and the Isle of Wight on the flight down.
Image: Christopher Tipping

The units below are the first to be manufactured and are, as such the sample test for the project. We will be looking to iron out any issues presenting at this stage and develop a methodology for ensuring quality control through the production period. The Type C unit – is only one of several bespoke profiles being developed – with each profile there are accompanying bespoke ends and specials to be made.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

This is a single unit, part of a six unit seating set for the landscape works. The seating forms part of the interpretation and public art created for the project. The units as seen here have yet to have the etching treatment to expose the surface aggregates, so appear quite light in colour. The finished colour and aggregate mix reflect the multi blend granite paving used throughout the site and is informed by the geology of the site – alluvial gravels – which were at one time quarried nearby in the area now occupied by the Civic Centre. These gravels would have formed the beach of the River Test Estuary, which was – until 175 years ago – to be found where Blechynden Terrace now stands.

Southampton Station Quarter - concrete samples developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services.

Southampton Station Quarter – concrete samples developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services.

We have selected the Blackhill Aggregate – White Cement – Heavy Etch sample to work with –

Southampton Station Quarter - preferred sample developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services

Southampton Station Quarter – preferred sample developed with Cornish Concrete Products Ltd for bespoke landscape works. Image: Matt Dyer, Balfour Beatty Services

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units. Bespoke return end unit, showing inverted fibreglass mould.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units. Bespoke return end unit, showing inverted fibreglass mould.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter - Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

Southampton Station Quarter – Visit to Cornish Concrete Products Ltd to review manufacture of Type C bench Units.

The composite image below, illustrate the evolution of the Type C Bench. The basic section is added to with bespoke and varying ‘ends’, with some units being further cast with lighting recesses.

Type C Bespoke Cast Concrete Bench for Southampton Station Quarter. Drawings by CCP Ltd

Type C Bespoke Cast Concrete Bench for Southampton Station Quarter. Drawings by CCP Ltd

Southampton Station Quarter, Type C Cast Concrete Bench development. Image: Christopher Tipping

Southampton Station Quarter, Type C Cast Concrete Bench development. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

Bespoke timber mould for the Type C bench fabricated by CCP Ltd. Image: Christopher Tipping

I particularly like to see the timber joinery and craftsmanship which goes into the moulds. No-one else really sees this – and the general public generally have no idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes to achieve the objects they see in the public realm.

 

 

 

Central Chelmsford

Finally caught up with progress on the Central Chelmsford Project on Thursday 19th February.

I hadn’t been to site since October 2014 & things had really moved on, with one block of the development already open to residents. The public realm is still ongoing, which includes the embedded artwork and interpretive text.

Installation in progress - York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

Installation in progress – York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

Central Chelmsford - Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects for Genesis Housing Association.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects for Genesis Housing Association. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - Denne Construction, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, Area Landscape Architects for Genesis Housing Association.

Central Chelmsford – Denne Construction, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, Area Landscape Architects for Genesis Housing Association.

Central Chelmsford - Installation in progress - York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Installation in progress – York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - Installation in progress - York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Installation in progress – York Stone steps with inset granite text to risers. Image:Christopher Tipping

The York stone steps with inset granite text was manufactured & supplied by the Ashfield Group. The installation on site is a very time consuming and bespoke process. I am looking forward to seeing the works all cleaned up and finished.

The large sandblasted granite platform seat has been installed, but not completely finished as yet.  This element, along with the sandblasted paving text was manufactured  & supplied by Hardscape.

Central Chelmsford - Large Granite Platform Seat  with Sandblasted detail & text by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Large Granite Platform Seat with Sandblasted detail & text by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - Large Granite Platform Seat  with sandblasted detail & text by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Large Granite Platform Seat with sandblasted detail & text by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - Detail: Large Granite Platform Seat  with sandblasted detail & text by Christopher Tipping, manufactured by Hardscape.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Detail: Large Granite Platform Seat with sandblasted detail & text by Christopher Tipping, manufactured by Hardscape.
Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford  - Courtyard.  Detail: Large Granite Platform Seat  with sandblasted detail & text by Christopher Tipping - manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Courtyard. Detail: Large Granite Platform Seat with sandblasted detail & text by Christopher Tipping – manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

The central courtyard is in progress, with brick built raised beds with trees, shrubs and grasses. All hard landscape concept design and planting for the scheme is by Area Landscape Architects.

The interpretation work I have done is mainly embedded within this scheme as seating, paving & steps. The text – as seen below – sandblasted into Royal Green Granite slabs & set into York Stone paving – has not yet been cleaned & is very dusty and dirty from continuing building works. The site is closed to the public. This will however, become a busy pedestrian thoroughfare when completed. .

Central Chelmsford. A 'stream' of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford. A ‘stream’ of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford. A 'stream' of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford. A ‘stream’ of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford. A 'stream' of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the York Stone paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford. A ‘stream’ of Royal Green Granite with sandblasted text runs through the York Stone paving on site. Manufactured by Hardscape. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - Pedestrian routes through the central courtyard will open out on expansive views over a large landscaped public open  space &  Central Park beyond.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – Pedestrian routes through the central courtyard will open out on expansive views over a large landscaped public open space & Central Park beyond. Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford - When completed, pedestrian routes through the central courtyard & heart of the site will open out via a dramatic black brick portal entrance onto a landscaped public realm with the Anne Knight Building and Chelmsford Railway Station.  Image: Christopher Tipping

Central Chelmsford – When completed, pedestrian routes through the central courtyard & heart of the site will open out via a dramatic black brick portal entrance onto a landscaped public realm with the Anne Knight Building and Chelmsford Railway Station. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

 

 

Merthyr Tydfil Bus Station and Link Bridge

9th February 2015

I have now made two visits to Merthyr Tydfil & am preparing to go up again this week for two days to meet with the project team and Capita, who will be delivering the Bus Station. Capita recently completed the The River Taff Central Link and Bridge –  a new road system that connects Merthyr Learning Quarter at the existing Penry Street Bridge, through Avenue De Clichy, across the new road bridge located south of Swan Street, and via the new road in front of the College. The new bridge is a major landmark for the town.

The town centre is fascinating & has some wonderful architecture. Just remember to look up above the shop fronts to see the architectural detail! Key anchor buildings are still extant & a good deal of regeneration is breathing new life into these buildings and by default, back into the town centre. The RedHouse, an arts and cultural centre – in the former Town Hall –  is a singular example of great regeneration practice & takes in the adjoining Penderyn Square – As part of the Heritage Quarter development, a new civic square outside the renovated Old Town Hall will be a key focal point for the cultural identity of Merthyr Tydfil.  The square will be a vibrant environment that will host events across the year celebrating the heritage of the town”. 

I have done a lot of walking and am talking to whoever I can to enlighten me on the legacy and heritage of the town, but also about its aspiration and spirit for the future.

I have also been asked to contribute to a feasibility study commissioned by Merthyr Tydfil CBC, to look into replacing the existing footbridge link from the College, to St Tydfil’s Shopping Centre with a new footbridge which also extends to the site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. The project is being delivered by Mott MacDonald  & Knight Architects.  This pedestrian connectivity is a critical element in unifying the accessibility of trains, buses  and pedestrian routes in the town. It serves also to improve and build upon the visual impact a new footbridge may have as a landmark attraction and destination along the Taff Trail, bringing more tourists and visitors to the town centre.

The site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. Image: Christoher Tipping

The site of the new Bus Station on Swan Street. Image: Christoher Tipping

This site, on the corner of Swan Street and Avenue de Clichy was until recently, the home of the Hollies Health Centre, which has now moved to state of the art new facilities in the Keir Hardie Health Park at Cyfarthfa. The old buildings have now  been demolished. The old Police Station – right & centre of picture, is also in process of demolition to make way for the Bus Station. The back of the St Tydfil’s Shopping Centre can be see on the left of this image.

The new Bus Station site as seen from the new River Taff Road bridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

The new Bus Station site as seen from the new River Taff Road bridge. Image: Christopher Tipping

360 Panoramic image of the Swan Street site. Residential flats and two schools lie to the south of the site & a sensitive response is imperative. Image: Christopher Tipping

360 Panoramic image of the Swan Street site. Residential flats and two schools lie to the south of the site & a sensitive response is imperative. Image: Christopher Tipping

The current Bus Station off Castle Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

The current Bus Station off Castle Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

This image looks grim, but to be fair, the weather on the day was dreadful ! If you turned around, the views out to the surrounding hills are great, even on a horrible day. Castle Street now leads onto the new River Taff Central Link Road at one end and the Redhouse at the other – both, great examples of the power of regeneration schemes in the town to make credible changes.

The College, Merthyr Tydfil, which opened on September 2nd 2013. Image: Christopher Tipping

The College, Merthyr Tydfil, which opened on September 2nd 2013. Image: Christopher Tipping

Panoramic image of the College at Merthyr Tydfil showing the new road and extensive public realm. The River Taff footbridge is at the far right of this image. Image: Christopher Tipping

Panoramic image of the College at Merthyr Tydfil showing the new road and extensive public realm. The River Taff footbridge is at the far right of this image. Image: Christopher Tipping

This area was the site of the former Ynysfach Ironworks, owned and run by the Crawshay Family of Cyfarthfa Ironworks. The new road seen running through the site  above almost follows the path of the former Glamorganshire Canal, which was fully opennd in 1794 and declined progressively between 1898 & 1951. Much of the Canal route is now buried beneath the A470 Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil Truck Rd.

The view upstream from the River Taff Footbridge. towards the Civic Centre.  Image: Christopher Tipping

The view upstream from the River Taff Footbridge. towards the Civic Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

Where the River Taff meanders to the left in the above image and turns the corner, was the site of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, one of the first Cast Iron Bridges built anywhere in the world, started in 1799 & completed in 1800. The bridge was designed and built by Watkins George, a brilliant engineer working for Richard Crawshay of Cyfarthfa Ironworks, known as the Iron King. The bridge was constructed for the workforce to cross the Taff to reach the Ironworks. It was dismantled in 1963 and is now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC.

Sections and details of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, dismantled in 1963 and now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC. Image: Christopher Tipping

Sections and details of the Ynysgau Iron Bridge, dismantled in 1963 and now stored by Merthyr Tydfil CBC. Image: Christopher Tipping

Communications and advances in transport were critical factors behind the expansion of Iron production during the Industrial Revolution.  Natural water supplies found in the Taff and its tributaries & streams provided the source of power, but this had to be managed and controlled. Innovation and technological advances were the powerhouses.

Merthyr Tydfil may  no  longer claim to be the Iron Capitol of the world, but transport and innovation continues to be the catalyst for change in the area.

The River Taff footbridge crosses just below the weir from the College to St Tydfils Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

The River Taff footbridge crosses just below the weir from the College to St Tydfils Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

The footbridge was built in the early 1970's but wasn't always covered. The bridge spans not only the River Taff, but the Avenue de Clichy & Wilkinson's Carpark . Image: Christopher Tipping

The footbridge was built in the early 1970’s but wasn’t always covered. The bridge spans not only the River Taff, but the Avenue de Clichy & Wilkinson’s Carpark . Image: Christopher Tipping

Looking downstream from the footbridge the views change between retail carpark, highway and river. Image: Christopher Tipping

Looking downstream from the footbridge the views change between retail carpark, highway and river. Image: Christopher Tipping

This distinct zoning of views as one crosses the bridge could also change considerable during the year. It’s a great feature from where to see the town  – its downfall being that it isn’t particularly good to look at ! A new footbridge would have the potential to exploit this fact too and make the most of the opportunities presented.

 

 

 

 

 

Station Quarter North, Southampton

Station Quarter North, Southampton

If you would like some background information on the contextual research which was done to help shape the project, take a look at this short film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzwx8UP4tmk

The film was put together by Wilson Massie of Balfour Beatty Living Places for the project client, Southampton City Council. – I’m not much of a screen presence, but the information and visuals are interesting !

Film Credit: Wilson Massie for Balfour Beatty Living Places and Southampton City Council

These were the brilliant guys on the ground who installed the Canal Shore works - Martin Miller & Jay Geary of Balfour Beatty. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places

These were the brilliant guys on the ground who installed the Canal Shore works – Martin Miller & Jay Geary of Balfour Beatty. Image: Wilson Massie, Balfour Beatty Living Places

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme, aka the ‘Margate Steps’

I recently saw some new aerial images of Margate Steps at low tide taken by the project contractors Breheny – 

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Breheny have very kindly allowed me to publish them on my blog. Notwithstanding its success as an example of coastal engineering within an urban setting, these images of the project really show to good effect the scale and impact of the project.  As a public realm & additional amenity space which the step revetment provided for the town, the project was also successful as demonstrated by the awards it has won.

The project was awarded the ‘Community Award’ at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South East England Engineering Excellence Awards 2013. This award is for schemes, which deliver their engineering objectives whilst achieving secondary benefits for the surrounding community.

Town Pride Award 2014 as administered by the Margate Civic Society, 

I was commissioned as the project Artist by MACH – Margate Art & Cultural Heritage, Thanet District Council & the Environment Agency. My role was to supply an interpretive & contextual backdrop developed with which to influence the design process & inform the structure, detailing & interpretation of this major sea defence works. The total budget for the project was £6m.

Client Team: TDC & Margate Renewal Partnership. MACH – Margate Art & Cultural Heritage, Engineers: East Kent Engineering Partnership.

Contractor: J Breheny Contractors LtdSpecialist Concrete Pre Cast: CCP Cornish Concrete Products. Flood Risk Management Consultant: Herrington Consulting Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

The Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme. Aka the ‘Margate Steps’. Image: J Breheny Contractors Ltd

 

 

 

Merthyr Tydfil Bus Station

Great news to end 2014 & a promising start to 2015 !

On 22nd December 2014 I was appointed as the artist to the team for the new bus station at Merthyr Tydfil.

“The appointed artist will work as part of a multi disciplinary design team to look for opportunities to contribute to the design of the bus station both in terms of function and aesthetics. The development of a new Central Bus Station for Merthyr Tydfil is one of the last major regeneration projects for the heart of the town centre.

Through extensive public consultation held in June 2014, the majority of the public recognised the need to relocate the bus station; however concerns were raised over anti-social behaviour, accessibility and close proximity to a residential area. It is critical that the design addresses these concerns whilst looking for a contemporary design that has a unique appearance which is respectful to the surrounding area.

This is an excellent opportunity for an artist to make a real contribution to the design of an important part of the town’s transport infrastructure and a critical building within the townscape. The appointed artist will be expected to bring a new perspective to the design team crossing traditional skills boundaries and linking different design disciplines.” 

Helen Kell, Vibrant and Viable Places Project Manager, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.  Helen will be liaising closely with me, alongside the Public Arts Officer for the project.

I will be collaborating and working alongside Capita Symonds, Mott MacDonald, Arts Council Wales & One Voice, a disability action group based in Merthyr Tydfil as well as local authority agencies and local planning officers.

The brief and scope is wide ranging at this stage, but is focussed on the use of research led contextual studies with which to influence the design process and eventual outcome of the project.

I will be starting work on the project in January 2015 & look forward to working & collaborating with the people of Merthyr Tydfil as soon as possible.

This blog will be made open to everyone involved in the project to review, comment upon & contribute to the programme and research.

 

Notes on Merthyr Tydfil by Christopher Tipping

Notes on Merthyr Tydfil by Christopher Tipping