Community and Culture
Somewhere to go; something to do, some place to be…what do we want from our neighbourhoods? Does it matter what they look like, where they are, who they attract?
We think all these things matter and when we start a cultural or localised project we ask the community what it is that they want. We go beyond this and ask them to imagine it and to draw their ideas; talk to, and plan with us. Consultation is a large part of successful architecture and urban design and we prioritise it. The prospect of fulfilling people’s, sometimes ‘wild’, ideas and aspirations is often daunting for some stakeholders, yet we believe that eliciting aspirations is a good place to begin any project. Will Alsop, together with the stakeholders involved in the masterplanning of Bradford, had the idea to flood the town centre. Though this sounds fantastical, Bradford City Park’s ‘mirror pool’ is now a major international tourist destination and has become the gathering place for Bradford’s community – a place to paddle in the pool on a hot day and a place for major cultural performances.
More recent community architecture projects include the visually striking ‘Neuron Pod’, a science education centre for Queen Mary University London; TESTBED – our cultural hub concept, begun in Battersea and spread to Chongqing, China and SE1, our shopping mall in Kenya, ‘The Beacon’, a new retail environment that incorporates leisure activities, new technology and ‘sweet-factory’ themed sculptural interventions.