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Building sites used to be hidden behind large ugly hoardings printed with the name of the company working behind, but developers are increasingly looking to use them as opportunities for public art.
At the end of March, the Ballymore Group, a specialist in urban regeneration, announced the results of a competition run in conjunction with Chelsea College of Art to design hoardings for the Embassy Gardens development at Nine Elms on London’s Southbank.
A mixed-use residential area between Chelsea and Lambeth bridges, the development starts at Battersea Power station and finishes in Vauxhall.
Running through the middle of the area, which is at present non-residential and comprised mostly of warehouses, will be a linear park modelled on the High Line in New York.
Touted as “London’s third city” (after the Square Mile and Westminster), there will be space for theatrical events and public art, as well as bars, shops and homes. Both the US and Dutch embassies are set to move here in 2017.
The competition was created in order to bring an artistic feel to the area during the building work. One of the winners, Simone Barnes, wrote a poem that can be read in either direction.
“Busy people, who may only see snippets of the poem as they pass, will have more revealed over time,” she says.
Grace Arnott-Hughes has compiled snatches of conversation – “bonjour”, “mind the gap”, “cheerio”, “onde estou eu?” – for her design. “I wanted something vibrant and colourful,” she says. “I used multiple languages to incorporate the different demographics of the area.”
The other two winners were Akshitha Victor and Danielle Field. One made a hoarding showing buildings wrapped up as brown parcels, while the other design features letters spelling out “Absolutely New” in the style of 1930s Manhattan architecture.
A spokesman for the Ballymore Group said the company had been “overwhelmed” by the interest in the competition. There were 42 entries and the hoardings will go up in the middle of April.