Housing For All Schemes

We were appointed in spring 2020 to help Wandsworth Council understand how to bring a cultural perspective to two new housing development schemes in Battersea. Each scheme will bring new housing within existing established housing estate communities which required a sensitive approach and a response to the already planned architecture and public realm schemes.

Surrey Lane Estate Battersea

The Randall Close and Battersea Church Road schemes are located near to the River Thames, between Battersea and Albert Bridges and a short walk from Battersea Park. Randall Close will be built on the Surrey Lane Estate and Battersea Church Road on the Somerset Estate (subject to planning approval).

We were appointed by both development leads to explore each scheme with the relevant design teams to identify where artist commissions could add value and bring beneficial interventions within the landscape or wider public realm. This includes facades, seating and way-finding. Also, core to our remit was to show how local communities could be involved in the public art commissions.

Battersea Church Road public realm plan

Our research uncovered a unique and fascinating heritage which offers a very rich springboard for public art commissions which are interesting and accessible for the local community to be part of.

In addition to a market gardening and industrial river heritage, and strong historic socialist activity, we discovered that a mosaic and tile craftsman lived and worked in the immediate area through many decades of the 19th and 20th century. Jesse Rust and later his son Henry Jesse moved their company to Battersea in 1890. They were prolific in the production of high quality mosaic works. One remains locally; the much loved ‘worker bee’ floor in Battersea Arts Centre, formerly the town hall.

Ceramic and tile making, together with the enameling that was underway at the former Battersea Enamels, are referenced as potential approaches to guide the artist commission opportunities we have proposed.

“… very professional, reliable and worked hard to achieve tight deadlines. Susie was very knowledgeable, offered innovative yet deliverable solutions for our Strategy. A pleasure to work with and I would not hesitate to commission her services again.”

Emma Taylor, Battersea Church Road Project Manager
Wandsworth Council
Jesse Rust mosaic Battersea Arts Centre

The strategies we produced ensure the specific challenges and opportunities of each scheme are identified. We liaised closely throughout with the council’s respective development teams and design teams to ensure that as ideas developed, they were workable and in line with the wider vision.

To ensure we had a clear understanding of this, we interrogated the existing plans and gained a picture of community consultation and learnings from this. We held a number of client/design team meetings to gain clarity on all issues and a clear timeline as the wider programme evolved. This included an aspiration for public realm improvements beyond the immediate site boundaries which needed to take into account and consider how artist projects could have scope to expand if necessary.

A new public realm

Having set out the priorities for each scheme, and specific issues, opportunities and themes to be addressed, we presented a range of precedents illustrating public art projects of different types and scales. These drew out a sense of possibility and inspiration for each project and made some of the ideas we were discussing tangible for those unfamiliar with commissioning artists.

A number of precedents specifically showed projects in which people living in the local area were involved in different ways, from inputting to artist briefs or participating on public art steering groups, to working collaboratively with a artist in the development of proposals or to inform thinking. In some projects, artists work closely with communities throughout and have an integral role as participants or co-producers. These helped the client to understand the options ahead in terms of how they wanted to take the commissions forward.

“Susie has brought her extensive expertise and creativity to a number of Wandsworth schemes, the most recent being Randall Close, Battersea Church Street and Osiers Road. She is always a pleasure to work with and can be relied upon to deliver a strong cultural programme within budget and to deadline.”

Sara O’Donnell, Head of Arts and Culture
Wandsworth Council

The strategies have been commissioned by the council’s internal housing development programme Housing for All in order to discharge the S106 planning obligations. These required a Cultural Strategy and Action Plan to be produced for each scheme, and submitted as part of planning.

Our strategies were accompanied by an Action Plan and indicative timeline, with ‘nest steps’ to indicate what commissioning steps should take place and when, in order to deliver public artworks in line with the wider schemes’ timelines.

To maximise on budgets, we encouraged the clients to co-commission one artist to work across both schemes, responding to each uniquely but through a shared approach which will focus resources.

Randall Close & Battersea Church Street, Housing for All, Wandsworth, London
Wandsworth Borough Council

Next Project Previous Project