Architects, artists and designers have been invited to propose a £49,500 art trail for two housing developments in Bishopstoke, Hampshire (Deadline: 6 September)
The competition, backed by Eastleigh Borough Council and East Sussex-based manufacturer Millimetre, will select a series of installations to provide wayfinding to several ‘permissible paths’ that weave through the sites.
The project is funded by the sites’ developers – Anchor and Bovis Homes – through the council’s Section 106 policy. Both developments occupy the former estate of The Mount (pictured), a Victorian country house which later became a care home before being sold in 2006.
The Mount, Bishopstoke
According to the brief: ‘There are a network of permissible pathways that run through the woodland areas next to the site and which the public are able to use for their leisure pursuits such as nature walks, exercise and dog walking.
‘It is expected that the location of the artworks will be agreed in liaison with the village residents and management and will complement the management plan. The entrances to the sites may also provide a location for artworks and act as guides to the permissible paths.’
Bishopstoke is a small village overlooking the River Itchen, and around 10km north of Southampton, surrounded by 207ha of forest and home to 4,000 species of mammals, birds, insects and plants.
Walking routes: Bishopstoke Park
The competition focuses on two housing developments in the north of the village: Bishopstoke Retirement Village by Urban Edge for developer Anchor; and Nine Acres by Boyle and Summers for Bovis Homes.
The Mount was used for healthcare for most of the 20th century while its 26ha estate became a popular recreational amenity for local residents.
The latest project aims to deliver a series of artworks, following several permissible paths that weave through the sites, boosting the quality of the physical environment and providing wayfinding to visitors.
Proposals must thematically integrate the two developments with each other, improve connections to the surrounding community, promote local pride and steer walkers away from homes near the pathways.
Concepts must be original and harness hard-wearing materials that require minimal maintenance and have a 20-year lifespan. Submissions should include a sketch, short descriptive statement, budget and CV.
A long list will be drawn up and exhibited for local feedback. Shortlisted teams will then be invited to further develop their designs ahead of the announcement of an overall winner in November.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 6 September
57 North Street
Tel: 01273 626 562
Visit the competition website for more information
Billboards case study: Q&A with Giles Miller
The founder of Giles Miller Studio discusses lessons learned creating an interactive way finding installation for Clerkenwell, London
How did your Billboards project aim to improve wayfinding and deliver a high-quality art work for Clerkenwell?
‘Billboards’ was a response to a discussion we had with the organisers of Clerkenwell Design Week relating to the spread of the events and shows in the area, and how one might ensure visitors experienced the entirety of the festival. Our approach was to marry functional signage with our own creative interest in textural sculpture. Rather than creating literal signage that instructed visitors, we produced textured and tonal surfaces that evoked movement using abstract imagery. While the medium, form and even the name of the pieces reflected direct references to signage, the content was actually extremely decorative, soft and tactile, meaning the visitors could appreciate the pieces as stand-alone artworks as well as reading from them the subtlest of directions.
Billboards by Giles Miller Studio
The challenge with a project like this was to create sculptural pieces that also function; dual requirements which demand that neither the artistic integrity of the pieces nor their functionality suffered any compromise as a result of each other.
Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?
Our studio is interested in harnessing light and shadow through the composition of materials. Our material of choice was supplied by our sponsor/partner, British Ceramic Tile, which had an interesting range of glass tiles in some impactful colours. We composed thousands of the tiles across the surface of the structures at varying angles of incidence. The degree of openness of each individual tile denoted its tonal level, as is the case with many of our projects, and this method allowed us to create the visual content for each sculpture. The design was based on a latticed plywood substructure with a ‘skin’ of tiles, and strip-lights within the pieces, which referenced traditional billboards. At night, the imagery on the surface of the sculptures becomes visible through the controlled emittance of light, rather than the shadow cast by the external sunlight during the day.
Billboards by Giles Miller Studio
Q&A with Ivan Clarke
The director of Millimetre discusses his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding a contest for a new art trail in Bishopstoke Park?
The project is to create and install artworks that create a sense of place and are visual markers rather than a formal art trail. The reasoning behind the council’s initiative to commission work through a competition is to create a fair process, open to a wide audience and to maximise the chance of receiving good-quality, well-thought-out and notable artworks.
The council has engaged Millimetre to manage the process based on the experience of its staff and also because Millimetre is well placed to reach out to artists, architects and designers, while at the same time having extensive knowledge of fabrication and installation. This is important with respect to assisting the steering group to assess the realism and viability of proposals.
The decision-making process will be made by a steering group involving community representatives and through community engagement. This is important to Eastleigh Borough Council as it provides a robust mechanism for promoting community ownership. The commission is open to international applicants but the key consideration is the deliverability – if an international practice can be responsible for the production and on-site installation of works then its application will be considered.
What is your vision for the potential future of the contest sites?
The future of the sites will be to have artworks that tangibly add to the sense of place and quality of the environment. They should be notable, worthy of discussion and at the same time serve as visual markers to assist in orientation. The number of sites and exact locations are to be agreed as part of the commissioning process. The individual sites will be relatively small as the works will, in essence, assist in placemaking and wayfinding. Sustainable issues are part of the brief, primarily in the sense of long-term durability. The commissioners will be looking for works that are low maintenance and resilient. Sustainability comes, in this case, from longevity.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
We are open to any practice or individual applying. They will be judged on the strength of the idea, its material and financial viability and evidence that the practice or individual has the experience and proven track record to deliver the proposal. Beautiful and notable work on any scale can get a practice or individual noticed and further their career. The commission has been opened up to architects and designers in addition to ‘artists’ as, in Millimetre’s experience, there is a significant crossover between the disciplines. We feel that the commission could be fun and an out-of-the-ordinary opportunity for practices to consider. In this sense, practices, designers and architects can do something a bit different and at the same time the commissioners access a wider range of talent.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Eastleigh Borough Council is keen to create high-quality, interesting public realm wherever possible. The council will remain open to using creative commissioning processes whenever it is possible and appropriate, as it is doing with the Bishopstoke project. The commission is funded by the developers Anchor and Bovis Homes through the council’s Section 106 policy. Where applicable, Section 106 funds will continue to be used in this way and further competitions may arise.
Are there any other artistic public realm and wayfinding projects you have been impressed by?
There are numerous individual artworks that inspire and engage. It’s really down to personal taste, but in our opinion the best works are simple but memorable. They stand the test of time artistically. We love Barbara Hepworths Winged Figure on the John Lewis store in Oxford Street, London. It’s sculpture and landmark wayfinding in a broad sense. From a practical point of view successful works are those that are durable and low maintenance – these are real considerations for placing works in the public realm.