Square with Four Circles – Felice Varini

ACH_0604_001, originally uploaded by Site Projects New Haven.

This is ‘Square with Four Circles’, the latest piece by swiss artist Felice Varini for New Haven, in the US. It was commissioned by Site Projects and opened in June this year. Check the Site Project Photostream for a full documentation of the piece including the installation.

Landsharing Website

We came accross the Landshare website today and thought it would become handy at some point.  It is is for people who want to either make their garden available for others to grow food on or for people looking for a space to cultivate. We hope we can use this website to attract people to the garden we are thinking of creating in one of the sites ( to be revealed later).

We also hope to be able to use this to advertise the space on our own estate ( the Bemerton Estate in Islington, London) which we want to turn into allotments. There are a lot of dormant green spaces around us!

Anyway here is a clue to our concept for the Urban Fallow programme. We don’t want to reveal it yet as it is first to be officially presented to stakeholders.

The Urban Fallow Garden Bus © Michael Pinsky

Andover’s Theatre Plaza revised application and duck sign

On Friday 7 May, we had a meeting with Test Valley Borough Council officers Jason Owen and Michael Johnson,  Sue Sheppard from the Andover Vision Consortium, and David Gleave from the Town Centre Management.

We met to get an update on the revised plans for Theatre Plaza Scheme in Andover. We are now clearer as to what fallow space we will be working with.

Jason Owen who works in the planning department shed some light on the revised planning application for the Andover site and explained that the planning application would take place in two phases.

It consists of the construction of a 72-bed hotel and a ground floor restaurant as well 38 units of affordable housing. This development will leave a good part of the site fallow.

Here is what Jason drew to describe the first phase. The platform was drawn by Michael as a rough idea to create a walkway through the site.

The first and second phases of the Theatre Plaza

There is a 6 meter level difference between the eastern and western side of the theatre plaza.

The remain of site will be boarded up. Allowing public access to the site during the Urban Fallow programme may be difficult.

We also discussed available funding and ressources. Michael Johnson mentioned that community gardeners may be available to work on the Urban Fallow project.

After the meeting, we looked at the site and were surprised to find it looked quite different from our visit in the winter. The shrubs are now in full bloom and some of the trees are  quite big!

We also took Esmée, our daughter and the Urban Fallow project’s mascot, to see the recently-arrived residents of the banks of the  River Anton. The goslings and ducklings were a real treat for her. The feathered population is growing and car drivers are asked to slow down when they reach their residence. We loved the sign!

Warning about the duck population of River Anton

Pop Up City: variations for the use of vacant site in the City of London

‘Pop Up City: Ideas for re-using vacant urban sites’ was exhibition hosted by New London Architecture of the competition for 122 Leadenhall which lay vacant for a couple of years. On the invitation of British Land, thirteen young architectural practices responded as to what to do with this site which had already been dug up.

A recurrent idea was to implement some trees and urban gardens and create a walkway above the whole site.  Here is a poor presentation of the proposals we liked best. Apologies for the bad quality of the pics and for not mentioning the names of all the selected practices. All we have are these bad pics which we hastily took as records when we visited the exhibition. We were told that the proposals would be online but unfortunately for us and for the architects and collectives involved in the competition, none of them are mentioned on the New London Architecture website.

Mitchell Taylor Workshop won the competition with their  City Farm proposal but unfortunately the project won’t go ahead as building work is due to start shortly on the site. Read the post of Hattie Hartman on the exhibition.

Mitchell Taylor Workshop Proposal for 122 Leadenhall

For a complete version of the ay-architects proposal, visit the Projects>Public section of  http://www.ayarchitects.com/

Read the Building Design article about this exhibition

PS: On looking for information about the Pop Up City exhibition, I came across an online magazine of the same name. The Pop Up City magazine is an initiative of an Amsterdam- based agency for urban strategy, planning and research. There are a range of interesting projects both in the Pop Up City magazine and Golfstromen website.

Skip Gardens and Roof Allotments – King’s Cross, London

Herb, Fruit and Vegetable Roof Garden on the top of office building in King's Cross

Stéphanie and Michael attended a Food Junction event on Saturday 24 April to find out whether the Global Generation urban gardens could be somehow repeated as part of Urban Fallow.

They were guided by Paul Richens, Gardens Manager at Global Generation, through an allotment on top of an office building and through an improvised skip garden next to St Pancras International. Paul, who is an expert on the art of roof allotments explained that gardening on a roof can be challenging as it often involved carrying bags of soil to be carried up long staircases on human’s back!

A hungry 2 year-old picking edible flowers

About Global Generation

crane maze

Global Generation is dedicated to giving young people opportunities to play a part in creating a sustainable future.

The Skip Garden in King’s Cross is helping to create a bio diverse and social ecology  is supporting young people to play a pivotal role in transforming this part of the city. They are being trained to become social innovators who are building gardens and inspiring others to create a new and sustainable future.

Winchester Friarsgate Carpark in Pictures

On Monday 22 March, Phil Smith and Stéphanie Delcroix visited Friarsgate car park as a potential site for Urban Fallow.  The rooftop which was once part of the facility, hasn’t been in service for a long time. Here and there are the remnants of temporary use by urban nomads such as empty tins. Some of the tarmac is in a state of advanced decomposition. Whilst rotten tarmac looks safe to tread upon, its nature doesn’t fool your steps for long at all:  your feet slip on the viscous matter which is in the process of turning back into oil.

The top floor of the car park is still open but hardly used except from farmers’ market days every second Sunday. Recently the space was transformed by the installations of a group of Winchester University Art Students. In the days following the show,  car park cleaners found heaps of domestic paraphernalia which they believed to be the leftover from the homeless when it fact they were art installations. It is apparently not uncommon for those who go without shelter to try to create a sense of domesticity by installing little shrines. The Roman household spirits would have been flattered by these intentions. So next time you encounter a pile of forlorn objects in a staircase,  you may be about to step over a contemporary version of the altar to the Lares!

Next trips

Stéphanie is off to Andover tomorrow to meet Michael Johnson from Test Valley Borough Council and Sue Sheppard from the Andover Vision Consortium and look around a bit more.

Phil and Stéphanie are visiting Basing View and the Thales roof garden on Monday. There they will meet with Faye Bradley, Cultural Investment Officer, at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.