Pepys Estate

London Borough of Southwark

Client

Hyde Housing Association

Principal Stakeholders

  • Local Authority: Lewisham Borough Council
  • Architects: BPTW architects
  • Artist: Christopher Rutter and Evelyn Bennett

Summary

Devising an artistic treatment to the children’s recreation space as part of the wholesale regeneration of the Pepys Estate.

Context

The Pepys Estate, long notorious for crime and racial tension,  was transferred from Lewisham Council to Hyde in 2001. The art project was developed and devised as part of the overall regeneration of the estate. Now complete, the project is cited as an exemplar scheme by CABE. Designed by BPTW, it  provides new housing overlooking three existing green spaces and the river Thames. As well as the new buildings, the site sits close to a number of Grade II listed structures.

The art project sought to respond to this rich environment and play a part in the delivery of the overall Public Realm Strategy, itself following the principles of ‘home zone.’  As well as noting the physical context, the commission sought to understand the values and character of the communities of people who live at the site.

Community

The children living on the estate were key partners in the delivery of this project. Plan Projects staff together with freelance facilitators worked with the children through local primary schools over four half-day creative sessions, asking them to think creatively and critically about their environment and come up with their own ideas for how the site could be designed. The material from these sessions was carefully recorded and this, together with the designs created by children, were fed through to the shortlisted artists, who were briefed to use this material in their proposals.

Outcome

The recreation area was envisaged as a space to be used by young children and their parents and those wanting a quiet, enclosed and natural area. The artists, Christopher Rutter and Evelyn Bennett, proposed remodelling the area to take advantage of the existing trees and foliage to form a wooded ‘clearing’ in which sculptural work could be sited to be used by children as a play piece for climbing on and running through. Their final proposals are clearly inspired by the material generated in the community consultation work.