Waltham Forest Council has announced an open call for a series of £40,000 public realm installations across the north-east London borough
Open to all UK-based artists, architects, landscape architects and designers, the contest seeks proposals for 20 long-term interventions on a range of underused sites nominated by local residents.
The Making Places project, backed by the council in partnership with Create London, will see the winning schemes installed by October next year. Proposals for the sites – which include pocket parks and underpasses – must have a minimum lifespan of five years and require minimal or low-cost maintenance.
According to the brief: ‘Making Places is a £1 million initiative by Waltham Forest Council which will deliver a creative project in each of the wards across the borough. Projects will have a lasting impact on local communities, creating places which are safer, brighter and where residents and visitors enjoy spending time.
‘The list of sites includes parks, street corners, bridges, alleyways and a library garden. Proposals should be site specific and respond to the issues raised and suggestions made by residents. Ideas for projects might include: lighting installations, growing spaces, sculptures, play equipment, outdoor furniture or other interventions which will revitalize and improve the site and surrounding area.’
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.
Recent interventions within the district include the Brokkys Crofte experimental playground by Max Dewdney Architects (pictured), Assemble’s Blackhorse Workshop, and Drapers Field recreation ground by Kinnear Landscape Architects.
The competition focuses on 15 prominent sites which have already been identified for new installations while an additional five sites are expected to be announced in November. Together the 20 plots will cover all wards within the borough.
Sites currently identified include a traffic island in South Chingford, Ridgeway Park, The Highams Park, a sunken garden in Attlee Terrace, and a rundown open space near Stoneydown Park.
All proposals must be site specific and directly respond to issues raised by local residents and councillors. Teams may apply for any number of sites but a maximum of four areas will be awarded to anyone team.
Judges include Barbican arts director Louise Jeffrey; Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture; Soho Theatre executive director Mark Godfrey; Create London director Hadrian Garrard; and Harriet Warden creative director at the Blackhorse Workshop.
The deadline for applications is 8 October.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
London Borough of Waltham Forest
Waltham Forest Town Hall
Clare Coghill, leader of Waltham Forest Council
Why are you holding an open call for a new artistic installations across the borough?
Making Places is a borough wide scheme with 20 sites. We think that an open call is the best way to reach a wide range of practitioners, and get some really exciting ideas. The projects will have a lasting impact on local communities, creating places which are brighter, safer and where residents and visitors enjoy spending time. The creative projects at this stage are unknown and could be anything from play equipment, outdoor furniture, a community garden or a lighting installation that helps to make a neighborhood feel safer. An open call with a competitive element gives us the flexibility to make sure we get the best project for each site.
What is your vision for the new installations?
The sites vary in size and space and therefore will each have their own planning requirements. So far 15 sites have been announced and a further 5 sites will be announced in November. We want people to interact with the installations, feeling that they make a difference to their area. We also want to help people enjoy being in spaces that have been considered as neglected or unloved. Being sustainable and long lasting are clear requirements. Innovation and creativity in the design is just as important- the aim is to ensure that cutting-edge, high quality works are created.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
This is open to all architects and designers living or working in the UK. We are looking for practitioners who can develop and deliver ideas that are site specific and show consideration of residents’ feedback. This could be interesting project for larger organizations, but this can also be an opportunity for those starting out. We’re also open to partnerships and collectives applying. Making Places has already attracted high profile media coverage, and we anticipate that the chosen projects will also be of great interest- and therefore raise the profile of everyone involved in their creation, and strengthen Waltham Forest’s reputation as a borough of culture.
The Linear Park
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The Council is increasingly using design competitions to maximize quality of design and development – this means it is more open for different approaches and ideas. In the borough there are a number of significant regeneration developments emerging across the borough, such as plans for Lea Bridge and Leyton which looks at opportunities for how the area could change over the next 10 years with a strong focus on culture as a means of creating a better sense of place. A similar approach is being taken with plans to enhance some of our town centres, too. The Majority of new opportunities which become available can be found on the procurement website -the London Portal.
Are there any other artistic installation projects you have been impressed by?
There are a number that come to mind. This includes the William Morris Gallery which was a £5m project to refurbish the grade II* listed building and create a new extension of architectural merit, completed in 2012 by Pringle Richard Sharratt Architects. The St James Street HLF funded improvements to the public realm, and the redevelopment of the historic Standard music venue, which is soon coming to Blackhorse Road. This is a snapshot of what’s happening in the borough–it is a very exciting time for Waltham Forest.
Lea Bridge Library Garden