This project was initiated with Edinburgh University in 2011 and forms part of wider research being carried out by the practice into the inter-relationship between urban food systems and the design of new public spaces. The research studied ways in which the growing, processing and distribution of food within cities currently could evolve as a means to improve access to public space and improve urban eco-systems.
Current strategies being developed as part of this research include developing 'nomadic' networks of temporary allotments on brownfield sites. These adaptable networks could link to new economic opportunities to process, market and consume food and drinks produced within the city, establishing a resilience and permanence in contrast to diminishing numbers of traditional allotments. This research investigates how these new functions can enhance the urban environment, and as a type of urban space.
This research project was awarded a full AHRC scholarship on behalf of Cambridge University and is being carried out part-time alongside practice work by Michael Collins as part of the Martin Centre PhD programme.
This research feeds into wider practice thinking regarding living and working as part of the urban design of larger developments, but also smaller scale interventions within existing urban environments.
Ephemeral spaces for the arts
Over the last few years, smaller arts and cultural organisations across the UK have had to compete for diminishing public funds and as a result of competition from retail and residential uses often operate under significant pressures within city centre sites. It is essential however that arts and cultural facilities are retained as part of the urban life of our cities.
This ongoing study aims to develop of low-cost models of appropriating un-used urban sites for the arts. This study follows a competition-winning project for a temporary gallery and multifunctional space as part of the 2013 Hidden Doors festival. The site chosen for this particular multimedia arts festival was the Waverley arches, a series of vaulted spaces constructed as part of the formation of market street for storage of railway goods, now derelict and awaiting regeneration as part of the areas wider retail development. The project aimed to visualise the currently hidden space of the arches by presenting this as a materialisation of their vaulted form within a public space in front of the vaults. As a transparent pocket of air this new 'veiled' vault has the opposite character to the historic vaults being used for various art installations, to compliment their heavy introverted qualities with its lighter extrovert character. This new glowing structure was designed to act as a signpost for the event, accommodate an ephemeral arts installation and act as a breakout space during evening live music events.
Alongside experience delivering temporary visitor facilities, and flexible low-cost structures, the practice is consulting with a number of organisations to develop models that allow cultural institutions to develop 'footholds' within urban sites.