Bryant Estate

Rochester, Kent, SE England

Client

MHS Homes

Principal Stakeholders

  • Local Authority: Medway Council
  • Artists: Jo Fairfax and Benedict Carpenter

Summary

Plan Projects worked with MHS Homes to devise a cultural project to contribute to the regeneration of a residential housing estate consisting of three residential blocks in Rochester.

Context

At the start of the project, a contextual analysis was carried out that looked at the relationship between the estate and the town itself. A key finding was that, together with the Castle and the Cathedral, the Bryant Estate was one of the largest buildings in Rochester and represented a significant landmark within the town. A key plank of our advice to the client was to use this prominence in a bold way to change people’s perception of the estate.

Community

Obtaining the input of people living on the estate was essential. Plan Projects set up a series of consultation events, targeted at different groups within the community: the young people, older residents and minority ethnic groups. Run over two days, these involved creative sessions with facilitators geared to understanding, through creative activities, how arts activities could add value to their environment and build social capital.

In particular we wanted to find out what nature of art would be likely to be embraced by local people and the local themes and cultural references people felt the art could address. This material was fed directly into our brief for the commissioned artist so as to ensure the final work would resonate for local people. 

Outcome

Following detailed research into the site, we put together a strategic document that identified opportunities both on the buildings themselves and in the public spaces between them. The essential function of the works was to help breathe fresh life into what was regarded as a stagnant and down at heel environment and in such a way improve residents’ quality of life and sense of civic pride.

The strategy led to commissioning proposals from a shortlisted group of artists, of which two of most noteworthy were illuminations by Jo Fairfax and sculpture to provide public seating by Jerwood Sculpture prize winner Benedict Carpenter.