Waltham Forest Council has announced a contest for a series of £40,000 installations across the east London borough
The open call invites artists, architects, designers and creative practitioners to draw up ‘ambitious, high-quality proposals’ to transform five unloved spaces in the borough into ‘cultural landmarks’ for the local community.
The open call, organised by Create London, will select concepts for the second phase of the council’s £1 million Making Places initiative, which saw eight interventions delivered from 2018-2019 by architects including vPPR, Barr Gazetas and Matter Studio. The winning projects will installed next year.
Waltham Forest Council leader Clare Coghill said: ‘The five sites include two station bridges, an underpass, a traffic island and a housing estate garden. The challenge is to propose innovative, creative ideas whilst responding to the needs of the local community.
‘Making Places has already delivered some exceptional projects including pavilions, amphitheatres, planting schemes and street furniture. I am looking forward to seeing how these five sites will be reimagined by artists and designers who will work with local people.’
Waltham Forest is a semi-suburban borough bounded by Epping Forest and the River Lea. The area, which is strongly associated with William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, has witnessed rapid transformation in recent years and is now tipped to become a major hub for culture and creativity and is London Borough of Culture 2019.
Recent interventions within the district include the Brokkys Crofte experimental playground by Max Dewdney Architects, Assemble’s Blackhorse Workshop, and Drapers Field recreation ground by Kinnear Landscape Architects.
The first Making Places open call, launched in 2017, resulted in eight installations including a new pair of gates at Highams Park by Merrett Houmøller Architects and Colin Priest, the Higham Hill Theatre by vPPR, and the Albert Crescent Long Table by Barr Gazetas.
Sites selected for the second tranche include a traffic island at Bulwer Road in Leytonstone, the gardens of Hyh House estate in Chapel End , a pedestrian underpass on Larkshall Road in Larkswood, Leyton Midland Road station bridge in Leyton, and Wood Street station bridge in Wood Street.
All proposals must be site-specific, directly respond to issues raised by local residents and councillors, and be designed to last for at least five years. Teams may apply for any number of sites but a maximum of two areas will be awarded to any one team.
Applications will be evaluated 30 per cent on quality of proposal, 30 per cent on local engagement, 20 per cent on feasibility and value for money, and 20 per cent on ease of maintenance.
The deadline for application is midday, 18 November.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
Hadrian Garrard, director of competition organiser Create London
Why are you holding a second contest call out for a series of £40,000 architectural interventions across Waltham Forest?
Making Places is a project where architecture, design and artistic practices are invited to make proposals for small public sites across Waltham Forest that have been identified by local residents as being in need of improvements. It’s pioneering in that it provides emerging or mid-career practices with an opportunity to carry out municipal improvement works that would normally be carried out by larger contractors, usually without design or creativity as a priority. So there’s opportunities for the local authority to embed new kinds of approaches into public works and of course for the practices themselves to take on this kind of work. The first round has seen 14 new commissions taking place and this second call is for the final set of sites. The ultimate goal is for local residents and the wider public to benefit from dynamic and imaginative projects that respond to local concerns.
What is your vision for the new creative installations?
We have worked on projects in parks, playgrounds, housing estates and streets across this large borough over the past two years. These new sites include two railway bridges, an underpass and two residential contexts. The challenges of these sites have been identified by local residents and range from safety at night and a need for better lighting to issues of families living in housing situated near busy roads. So there are practical concerns to be addressed and we are looking for proposals that take these on with real flair, quality of design and sustainability. Working with local residents and making the development of each project a public process is equally important and we are looking for practices who can demonstrate a commitment to this too.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
Given the scale of the projects, we are expecting and hoping that emerging practices will see the opportunity of these public projects. However we were, in round one, very pleased to see some more established practices and artists making strong applications too. This has resulted in projects including an amazing outdoor children’s theatre in Highams Park by vPPR amongst others.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Our hope is that other local authorities will recognise the opportunity to embed more ambitious approaches to public realm improvements and to also offer these kinds of opportunities to artists and designers. Although these are small scale for local councils, for emerging practices these are pretty significant and we’ve already seen excellent results that demonstrate real commitment, energy and relationships to local context. We’ve tried to make it as simple and dare I say enjoyable for practitioners wanting to make proposals and I think we’ve learned a lot from the first round and are looking forward to putting this into effect for the next, final phase of the project.
Are there any other recent temporary artistic interventions you have been impressed by?
I’m not a big fan of temporary public realm projects per se. We’ve stipulated that each of these projects should be without need of significant maintenance for at least 5 years, but I have to say our hope is that they will be in use for much longer. Of course, the best temporary projects are the ones that can grow and evolve over time and of course things that last much much longer than planned. I’m thinking about things like the Dalston Curve in Hackney which started in 2010 as a temporary project and is now a much-loved public space which brings real joy to a lot of people.