The Paddington Partnership has launched a contest to design a landmark £250,000 installation in Paddington, central London
The competition invites artists, architects and designers to propose an ‘interactive and sustainable’ public realm artwork connecting Eastbourne Terrace to Bishop’s Bridge Road, the Grand Union Canal and other new developments within the district, which has witnessed major regeneration over the past two decades.
The project aims to remedy the fractured public realm surrounding the major transport hub, which will be served by the Elizabeth Line when it opens. Three shortlisted teams will each receive £1,000 to further develop their schemes during the contest’s second round, and the overall winner will be constructed on site by 31 March 2020.
In its brief, the Paddington Partnership says: ‘Despite ongoing development activity, several Paddington schemes and estates experience severance by virtue of geography and infrastructure. Permeability can be weak unless you know the area, which lacks a common thread. Movement from and around the station is hampered by poor information and a hostile pedestrian environment.
‘Entrants are invited to use walls, bridges, street furniture, building façades, crossings and surfaces as the canvas for a sustainable, interactive artwork which makes the area more legible, welcoming and coherent and responds to the local context, character and heritage.’
The Paddington Partnership represents local businesses and landholders including British Land, European Land, Derwent London, CC Land, YardNine, Heathrow Express and Tishman Speyer.
Paddington station was constructed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1854 as the London terminus for the Great Western Railway. Since 1999 the former industrial district surrounding the station has been designated an ‘opportunity area’ resulting in huge numbers of offices and new homes being constructed.
Key developments in the area include Paddington Central by KPF, Sidell Gibson, Dexter Moren and Sheppard Robson; Merchant Square featuring buildings by Mossessian Architecture and Robin Partington Architects; Paddington Square by Renzo Piano and tp bennett, and 20 Eastbourne Terrace by Stiff + Trevillion.
Proposals for the installation must be graphic or art-led and should start on Eastbourne Terrace before continuing along Bishop’s Bridge Road to the canal, Paddington Central, the Brunel Building, Merchant Square, London Street and Paddington Square.
Submissions will be judged on their artistic quality, deliverability, sustainability and interactive components, contribution to placemaking and social value, durability and value for money.
British Land will act as delivery agent for the project and secure all necessary consents for its delivery. The deadline for applications is midday, 1 May.
How to apply
Kay Buxton, executive director of the Paddington Partnership
Why are your holding an international contest for a new artistic installation close to Paddington Station?
This is a really high-profile location and The Heathrow Express puts it firmly on the international stage. We want to tap in to world-class talent to ensure the we come up with a proposal which does Paddington and the UK proud.
What is your vision for the new ‘sustainable, interactive’ artwork?
We’re not looking at specific facilities, but there is a clear agenda in terms of functionality. The artwork needs to create a coherent identity for what is currently a very disjointed part of town. It also needs to help with orientation and wayfinding. This is an area which is currently hiding its assets – there are some really exciting developments along the waterside but a lot of people pass through the area without realising the canal is even there. Similarly, a lot of people coming to and from the station get lost. It is a serious problem now, and will only get worse with the opening of the Elizabeth Line. We’re not being dictatorial in terms of aesthetics – that’s down to the design proposals. We know what we want to achieve but are very open-minded as to how it’s going to look.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
We don’t have any preconceptions about this. We want to be surprised. Putting out an open call for expressions of interest is a deliberate attempt to reach as wide a range of different talents as possible. It could be an amazing opportunity for an emerging architect or artist to step up a gear or for an established practice to step outside their comfort zone. That said, we do need to know the winning entrant has the organisational ability to pull this off – it’s a complicated project and there are a lot of stakeholders involved. It will take diplomatic and delivery skills as well as a really strong idea and incredible design flair.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The brief for this commission includes a host of schemes in the pipeline at Paddington. We do hope that this open call brings some new faces and practices to the attention of Paddington’s development community.
Are there any other artistic installation projects you have been impressed by?
My personal favourites are the Fan Bridge at Merchant Square and the Turing installation below Bishop’s Bridge. Both Paddington pieces, obviously. The Fan Bridge, by Knight Architects with AKT II, has a breath-taking elegance to it. It draws crowds every time it performs. Message from an Unseen World, by United Visual Artists, brings to life a poem by Nick Drake inspired by the work and life of Alan Turing. It is an exceptional response by British Land to the space below Bishop’s Bridge. Both of these pieces have created much welcomed pause points in Paddington.