Evolution Project Peckham

Peckham, London, UK

Client

Taylor Wimpey

Principal Stakeholders

  • The communities in and around the site area
  • London Borough of Southwark

Summary

Taylor Wimpey approached Plan to put together a Cultural Strategy for their ‘Evolution’ Development in the heart of Peckham. Evolution is a major mixed-use project and has been a cornerstone of Peckham’s regeneration. The goal was to find ways of using the arts to deliver regeneration outcomes, specifically healing social divisions within the community and improving the environment for residents. Our work centred on how main the public space in the area, ‘New London Square,’ could be used as a catalyst for social and environmental improvement.

Context

Evolution is a major residential-led regeneration scheme. One aspect of our commission was to create linkages with the surrounding area to inform the identity of the new development. For example, opportunities were sought for local groups to work with key cultural institutions on their doorstep, such as the South London Gallery and Peckham Library. Given the great diversity of communities that exist in Peckham, issues of context were led by an ethnographic understanding of the communities that live there. It was a specific aspiration of the project to identify how communities could influence the nature of the new development and how the scheme itself could respond specifically to their needs.

Community

Our approach to community engagement involved focus groups with local people and creative workshops with children at the Damilola Taylor Centre, the community centre run by Southwark council. The results reflected a desire for cultural events and temporary public art projects that would encourage interaction between people and communities. The projects we devised therefore aimed to develop both  ‘bridging’ and ‘linking’ social capital. The brief to artists reflected community concerns that projects should avoid ‘token gestures’ to any one ethic group, but try to transmit values the entire community could celebrate.

Vision

We sought to design a programme of cultural events and activities that would deliver both social and environmental value. It worked towards  this new development becoming properly integrated into the multicultural community in Peckham such that its public open spaces should reflect its cultural values.

Key Recommendations

Our strategy fell into three broad categories: 

  • commissioning of structures, both temporary and permanent, within public space to provide shelter, a natural meeting place for residents and an idiosyncratic sense of identity for New London Square
  • develop positive ways the square could be used such as festivals and events timed to coincide with important dates in the community’s cultural calendar
  • a series of ideas for how the local community could work with outreach programmes offered by key cultural institutions in the area.