Tuning Nelson
Urban and Public Realm design, Public Artworks Masterplan // Nelson, Lancashire, UK // 2009-10
    An economic downturn throws into question assumed vehicles of urban renewal, and urban design is called upon to catalyse grass-roots initiatives, build up local infrastructure and activate the community to take the future into its own hands to move deprived town forward. Our project is cognisant of this new reality and grasps this new paradigm by postulating an urban design, public realm and public art strategy to stimulate self-reliance and active participation in the town’s development. Art and landscape are embedded in the fabric of the town, working with its DNA, practical urban measures combined with imaginative solutions. A multitude of minimal alterations are each designed to elicit maximum effects to revitalise Nelson’s under-used urban assets. This economy of means both sensitive, efficient and at the same time innovative, the proposed interventions fusing together urban design, public realm, architectural and art thinking to amplify what works and buttress what needs support, and where meaning is made manifest through everyday use.
    The proposed interventions cultivate civic pride by encouraging appropriation of the public realm, redundant shop frontages, key buildings or infrastructure such as the multi story car park. Our proposal for Nelson’s artworks program embeds artistic thinking within a larger urban strategy of CULTURAL INFRASTRUCTURE - a framework physically and thematically defined by the participation not only professional artists but also of many other creative elements in the local community, as an agenda for urban renewal.
    The framework is defined by 7 instruments, applied singly and in concert in different locations.
    Light / sound installations establish time-based dialogue between 3 existing and 3 existing vertical towers. With rooftop access for the public, the new Beacons create vantage points looking out over Nelson to the Pennine landscape.
  • Library Beacon
    In key public spaces different and varied appropriations meet, cross and sometimes compete to create PLACES OF ENCOUNTER where open, inclusive design stimulates dialogue and a strategy of shared, negotiated appropriation allows multi-functionality, and a sense of participatory belonging to emerge.
  • Leeds/Manchester Road - A Place of Encounter
    The town’s central junction is the location of a major new Public Multispace, whose design unites the new road connection and the square and the space in a way that highlights the different approaches, resonating with the geographic and historical role of Nelson as a border town between Lancashire and Yorkshire. This 'Place of Encounter' at the meeting point of Leeds and Manchester road allowing pedestrians, markets and vehicular traffic to co-exist through negotiated dialogue. The large plaza of red and off-white granite (reminiscent of the colours of the two counties) creates a delicate rhythm, repeated in a pattern of movable cast concrete sitting stones. A new access ramp and canopy re-activates the existing Pendle Rise terrace and Market Hall entrance.
    ARC - Existing Arcades are reinvigorated with light and other atmospheric art installations. New arcade connections create a network of pedestrian linkage between significant public spaces, reinforcing desire lines and destinations.
    SKY - Specially commissioned artworks and evening lighting create a unique cultural infrastructure for the perception of the sky, with Art as an experiential amplifier, filter and mediator. This is augmented with new canopies to the facades of Pendle Rise onto the Place de Creil and Leeds Road.
    In empty shop fronts across Nelson, temporary showcases are proposed, where artists, local craftspeople and creative start-ups have a forum for their work and contribute to the life of the street.
    Living Facades at four key entry sites into the town centre create dynamic gateway situations. Vertical landscaping, lighting design and cultural infrastructure work together to create urban interfaces which act as catalysts for the rejuvenation of the buildings onto which they are grafted.
    The Pennine landscape is brought into the town as a rooftop landscape, experienced from existing and new vantage points. Existing roof surfaces on Pendle Rise and beyond are rejuvenated with a varied landscape of cultivated green, roof terraces, wild flower meadows and water.
  • The new pedestrian network
  • The Connectivator - former Bus Station
    Our proposal for the rejuvenation of the former Bus station envisages inhabits the empty and under-used building with public amenities, while maintaining its role as the town’s main car park. The transformation is instigated in three places. The ground floor is closed of with a light simple, opening facades, creating a new public forum for indoor and outdoor activities; the upper level of the car park is transformed into a rooftop park, with dramatic views out to the countryside; thirdly, renovated and extended existing buildings on the street transform the building into the CONNECTIVATOR, a network of links and enclosed circulation elements incorporating a winter garden and the existing footbridge to Pendle Rise. In this way, the structure will become again a nexus of arrival, distribution and public life.
  • Interventions and new uses for the former Bus-station
  • The public rooftop garden on top of the Car park

Client: Elevate East Lancahire, Pendle Borough Council // Collaborators: Robinson Landscape Design (Public Realm and Landscape Design), Reid Jubb Brown (Architects) // Services: Lead Artist, Public Art Masterplanning, Urban design // Budget: £ 1.5m (1. Phase)