The Breaking Boundaries project came about through an invitation to become Lead Artist for Elwick Road, Ashford, Kent, from Graham Roberts, RKL http://www.rkl-consultants.org.uk/ early in 2006, on behalf of Kent County Council
The focus of the project was an innovative Highways project, where the main aim was to look at ways by which an Integrated Design Team (IDT) could work collaboratively on delivering a fresh urban footprint for Ashford. The outcomes of this scheme would be multi-faceted, however, freeing the town from the tourniquet of the existing ring road and stimulate growth to the south of the town, along Elwick Road, was a major part of the working brief.
The IDT consists of Whitelaw Turkington, http://www.wtlandscape.com: NK Projects, http://nkprojects.co.uk/: and Jacobs, http://www.jacobsbabtie.com/, and RKL http://www.rkl-consultants.org.uk/
The concept of shared space as pioneered by Ben Hamilton Baillie (http://www.hamilton-baillie.co.uk/) is integral to the scheme and is central to the thrust of the landscape design. The inclusion of ‘stand-alone” sculptures is not appropriate to the development, or the views as expressed by Ashford Borough Council. However, The Champions Group and the IDT wanted to look at innovative ways that the historic legacy of Ashford could be discreetly deployed within the concept of “street furniture” and “highway engineering”. The aim of creating a social space, where people could meet and socialise, without feeling threatened by a traffic monopoly, is important, as is looking at ways that a variety of generations use space for social interaction.
My own research focussed on historic and contemporary histories of the Town. Its emphasis on the railways, cycle industry and tannery industry, formed the main thrust of my research activities and helped form the palette of shapes that are now reflected in a series of highway interventions and street furniture. My work with City Squared http://www.citysquared.co.uk/, has stimulated a series of innovative multi functional pieces of street furniture that relate closely to the vernacular of the space and are at the same time appropriate to a variety of users of different generations.