Middlehaven

Middlesborough, UK

Client

Bioregional Quintain and ‘Placemakers’

Principal Stakeholders

  • Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT) Architects
  • Alsop Architects
  • Studio Egret West
  • Tees Valley Regeneration

Summary

Following the creation of a masterplan by Will Alsop, Bioregional Quintain asked Plan Projects to devise a Cultural Strategy that would consider how cultural activity of different sorts could contribute to the physical regeneration of the Middlehaven site. The strategy was to form an essential part of the ‘land bid’ for the project. 

Having won the bid, the client has taken the strategy forward to commission multiple works for the site including the ‘Tees Valley Giants’ project (the best known aspect of which is Anish Kapour’s  ‘Tenemos’ sculpture) support the establishment of the Middlesborough Institute of Contemporary Art and deliver a programme of public art interventions within the scheme that deliver both functional and urban design functions.

Context

The site is very close to Middlesborough’s city centre; a key aspect of our work was considering how cultural activity could secure greater linkages between this important economic and social hub and the Middlehaven site itself. In addition, a specific role for public art was to respond to some of the major items of infrastructure at the site, such as the transporter bridge, and to act as a means of building the identity of Middlehaven as a new residential community. 

Community

In addition to consulting closely with the range of key stakeholders, Plan devised a programme of creative consultation events directed at communities in Middlesborough.  We recruited to our team a locally based practitioner to conceive a series of sessions that would give us a clearer idea of the values and identity of local people and allow them to contribute their own thoughts and feelings to the strategy.

This led to a rich resource from which we were able to harvest ideas for creative projects and gain a clear understanding of Middlehaven as a place, and the community’s relationship with it. As a developer, Bioregional Quintain foreground issues of sustainability. The input provided by the cultural strategy fed into behavioural strategies designed to encourage sustainable living.

Vision

Given the focus on the physical regeneration of the site, our strategy looked at the opportunity for public art in particular to add value to the site in environmental, social and environmental terms. In addition, we aimed to model a different approach to commissioning ‘public art’ at the site by putting together multi-disciplinary teams to produce solutions. The ‘artists’ in our strategy would be briefed to produce dynamic and novel responses to briefs for both for smaller items such as lighting, seating and other assumed components of the public domain and major commissions, such as the Tenemos sculpture.

Key Recommendations

Our programme recommended working with major local stakeholders and communities in the Tees Valley to initiate an on-going programme of arts projects. These included, firstly, a strategic vision for the development of significant new cultural assets such as MICA, secondly, a detailed public art strategy to identify how public art projects of different scales and lifespans could contribute to the regeneration of the area and promote sustainability; thirdly, an artist in residence programme to bring the drama and delight of temporary installations; fourthly, artists working collaboratively with local residents and children to develop projects that reflect their experiences, desires and values and, finally, performances and short life span events using audio and digital media to contribute to the ever evolving life of this new creative quarter.