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Competition: Thamesmead Open

Thamesmead festival 2017, emergency exit arts, photo credit paul sanders
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Housing association Peabody has launched an international art competition for a £200,000 cultural intervention in Thamesmead, south-east London

The competition seeks an ‘extraordinary proposal to capture [the] cultural ambitions’ of the 1960s Brutalist housing estate which is undergoing a £1.5 billion regeneration led by Peabody intended to deliver 20,000 new homes by 2030.

Proposals are welcome from architects that embrace artistic practice or are bidding as part of an artist-led team. The winning scheme will be delivered over two years.

Peabody’s head of cultural strategy for Thamesmead, Peabody Adriana Marques said: ‘People and communities make great places, with culture and creativity an essential part of them. Thamesmead already has a growing cultural scene, with a community of artists, artist studios at the flagship Lakeside Centre, a programme of ambitious outdoor events, and a new artist-led project space, bookshop, gallery and radio station.

‘The Thamesmead Open will take this to a new level, providing an unprecedented opportunity for artists to respond to this unique and remarkable place. With our commitment to create a network of new cultural spaces throughout the town, culture is embedded in everything we do. We want people to be proud to call Thamesmead home. A home for culture in our great city.’

The Thamesmead estate was constructed between the 1960s and 1990s on the Erith and Plumstead Marshes. It features a network of raised walkways connecting living spaces as well as large water features intended to provide scenic amenity and recreational activities. Peabody purchased the site in 2014.

Proctor & Matthews and Mecanoo won planning for the first stage of the £8 billion transformation in October 2016. The consented applications include detailed plans for a civic-led quarter with 525 new homes, known as Southmere Village, and outline plans for three other development areas delivering 1,000 homes: Binsey Walk, Coralline Walk and Sedgemere Road.

In 2017, Bisset Adams was selected to design a £5 million lakeside library for Thamesmead. Pitman Tozer completed an initial 66-unit block of new housing on the estate last year. Plans for an additional 11,000 homes on a huge undeveloped waterfront site next to the estate were unveiled two years ago.

The latest competition aims to deliver a ‘bold statement for Thamesmead, putting the area on the map and raising cultural ambitions’. It coincides with the publication of a Cultural Infrastructure Plan for the 760ha area, the first to be published in London.

The contest is open to individual artists and creative practitioners, cultural organisations, and consortiums of artists or organisations. Submissions will be judged 50 per cent on the idea, 30 per cent on the team’s track record and 20 per cent on budget.

Applications may include a maximum of six sides of A4 featuring team description, previous projects and images. Five shortlisted teams will each receive to further develop their proposals. The judging panel, featuring local residents and representatives from Greenwich and Bexley councils, will announce an overall winner of the art commission in June.

The deadline for applications has been extended to 18 May.

How to apply

View the competition brief for more information

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