** WINNER OF WINNERS - Housing Design Awards, 2020
Recreating rich layers of industrial and environmental history as a celebration of place
Clients: Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd and The Hyde Group
In partnership with bptw and LUC
Artists: Katayoun Dowlatshahi and Christopher Tipping
FrancisKnight produced the public art strategy for Rochester Riverside development, which formed part of the planning submission for the £400 million development for Rochester Riverside. They are now delivering the strategy and managing the commissions for Phase 1, 2, 3 and 7. FrancisKnight works in partnership with the design teams to enable the artist commissions to be fully integrated and embedded within the public realm.
The development adjoins Rochester's historic town centre and the railway station, and will consist of up to 1,400 homes, of which 25% will be affordable housing, transforming the 74-acre (30 hectare) site by providing a new primary school, nursery, hotel, bar and restaurant, gym, healthcare facilities, office space and a number of retail units, together with 10 acres of open space including a 2.5km riverside walk.
Artist Katayoun Dowlatshahi is appointed to work with the landscape architects LUC on a landscape and furniture commission.
Katayoun creates work for public and private commissions and specialises in photography, drawing, architectural glass and time-based media. She has successfully integrated contemporary art into a variety of landscapes, public spaces, regeneration projects and urban environments. Her practice is rooted in printmaking in the broadest sense. She has developed an interdisciplinary approach to her work: context and site specificity are always integral and are also motivating factors when researching commissions. Photography is a constant in her work, often deconstructed and combined with other materials to produce fascinatng results.
The landscape and furniture commission looks at contributing and exploring alternative uses of scheme elements from hard landscaping to street furniture. Inspired by the environmental history of the site and its current ecological credentials Katayoun's work integrates abstracted images of marshland grasses, conveying movement and light onto bespoke cast Portland Stone benches and defined walls. These can be found in Station Square and along the River Walk.
"I have been very inspired by the notion of the "Creeks and Streets" concept first coined by the regeneration bid for Rochester Riverside. The river is central to the Medway way of life for humans as well as all sea, air and land creatures. The ecosystem is both a fragile and robust system that fascinates in equal measure. This commission has been an opportunity to explore the relationship of water with land, grasslands with marsh-lands, wind and movement. To find out about the precious ecology of the Medway and to raise awareness of its special qualities". Katayoun Dowlatshahi.
To complement the Portland Cast Stone benches, similar grass motifs and overlapping designs feature at the breakout junctions along the River Walk. Eleven unique images are laser engraved across the three full height oak sleepers that make up each revetment.
Architects bptw are colllaborating with artist Chris Tipping on the architectural commission where public art will support distinct and connected neighbourhoods.
Chris Tipping is an artist working in both public and private spaces. His work focuses on place and indentity, particularly local indentity, the site specific and how this is preserved, exposed and expressed. He is fascinated by the natural world and how we build communities and the way we navigate and use our man-made space. Detailed contextual research, which influences the design process underpins everything he does; a process of dissection to reveal layers of social history, community and the very fabric of place.
Using his research to inform this work, Chris is producing twenty-four bespoke units of cast iron and granite, with inlaid and sandblasted detail. The units are embedded into paving within or adjacent to the threshold entrances of all apartment blocks and to the footpaths of all the central and riverside designated housing. "I want these works with their accompanying text and drawings to be seen each day as people cross the thresholds between the public realm and the private home". Chris Tipping.
Seven car park and garden wall artworks will also be featured in Phase 1 & 2. Four of the feature walls will have large scale graphic motifs painted directly onto the brick surface, the remaining will be low relief patterns created using off-set bricks.
"This site was an industrious place for hundreds of years, providing and creating the wealth upon which Rochester grew into a powerful and beautiful cathedral city. Its wealth however, is not only in the grand and the elevated, the everyday, the matter of fact, the local and colloquial have all contributed over time to this place leaving a rich social and community-led legacy through the people whose livelihoods were centred on this fascinating site next to the River Medway. Shipbuilding, Sailmaking, Gasworks, Railways, Livestock Market, Transport, Fishing, Metal and Aggregate Trades and Market Gardening have all at various times left an indelible and tangible mark on this place, as have the domestic residences, pubs, shops and small businesses" Chris Tipping.