Bromley High Street
Public Realm and Public Art
In August 2020, Bromley Council appointed Turner Works and YOU&ME Architecture to design a series of improvements within Bromley High Street. The project builds on the recent landscape improvements to activate the centre beyond retail use. A place for recreation, leisure, shopping and culture.
Bromley Council is committed to improving its town centres for residents, businesses and visitors. Investing in the borough’s high streets, will assist with the COVID-19 pandemic recovery and enable our high streets to thrive into the future.
The project will deliver:
• A Canopy structure to provide shelter for everyday activities as well as events and festivals.
• An outdoor performance space to support existing and extended cultural programming on the High Street.
• A covered seating area inviting visitors to dwell and use the public realm in any weather and thereby support local shops and food outlets.
• Two artworks to celebrate Bromley’s identity and contribute towards its sense of place and unique character.
Design Concept: The Famous Five
We have responded to the project brief with five interventions. These ‘Famous Five’ pieces draw inspiration from different elements of Bromley’s past and present. Collectively they tell Bromley’s story.
Themes include ‘Music & Culture’, ‘Science & Technology’, ‘Fiction & invention’, ‘Hospitality, Health and Nourishment’. These stories and references will be as woven into the designs through text, poems, maps and playful light projections. These themes have been developed through consultation with key stakeholders and poetry co-creation sessions between local community groups and Poetry Machine’s Beth Calverley.
1. The Green House:
The main structure on the central site will be the Green House, a timber glazed canopy which references Charles Darwin, Crystal Palace and Bromley’s half-timbered houses. The Green House will be a lightweight, welcoming and light filled space which will glow at night with low energy lighting. Located centrally and close to Churchill Theatre and Bromley Library, the canopy, seating and performance area will form a new hub for everyday use as well as larger events on the High Street. The location benefits from close proximity to central public facilities as well as links to Church House Gardens. The new interventions will correspond with the flexible use of Churchill Square.
2. The Punk Rock:
The Punk Rock takes inspiration from the music heritage of Bromley. Situated underneath the tallest part of the Green House, it provides tiered seating facing the stage, and also gives as a raised platform for informal performances and sitting. The pre-cast concrete steps include inset hardwood timber seats, a large planter and storage.
3. The Story Seat:
Partly covered by the Green House canopy, the Story Seat will be a winding bench tiled with community poems, stories, maps and illustrations. The bench will incorporate phone charging points and a WiFi hotspot.
4. The Time Machine:
The Time Machine is an experiential sculptural installation that celebrates Bromley’s literary heritage, with specific reference to H.G. Wells’ science fiction writing. The design plays on abstracted time travel theories of time machines, time tunnels, worm holes and portals. It plays with false perspective, cosmic circular forms and illusion.
The artwork incorporates a new poem for Bromley, derived from poetry co-creation sessions with local community groups and poet Beth Calverley. This new piece of writing will reflect Bromley’s past and present dynamic.
The installation is experienced at different scales. It works both as an illuminated beacon from afar, as well as being immersive at an individual scale: You can sit within the worm hole; look up through its underbelly and mirror periscope; or be flooded by the poem light projection. The installation uses bright colours, low energy lighting and floor projections to create a dynamic piece which has different qualities in the day and night. The double cone framework is made from powder coated slatted metal, with concrete steps and timber seating.
5. The Broom Flower:
The Broom Flower is a sculptural jewel-like funnel which incorporates a drinking fountain, curved bench and planter. The form and golden colour takes cues from the Broom Flower after which the town is called - “The place where Broom grows”.
This artwork represents ‘Health & Nourishment’ and celebrates the significance of water within Bromley. It references the town as a coaching route stop and creates a stopping point along the busy high street. A place to rest, meet a friend, wash your hands or fill up your water bottle. The playful rain collection funnel waters the planter and also appears to supply the drinking water point, to create an educational and sustainable design and talking point. Plaques incorporated within the seating will tell the story of the healing properties of St. Blaises’ well, the Town Pump and the significance of the Bromley Broom flower.
These designs have been developed with key stakeholders including: elected town ward councillors (Councillor Dykes, Harmer, Morgan & Rutherford); Your Bromley BID; LBB Town Centre & market team; Bromley Library and Churchill Theatre.
Poetry co-creation sessions:
As part of our design process, we have worked with local groups to share their thoughts, feelings and memories of Bromley, as well as hopes for its future. Beth Calverley from The Poetry Machine has guided participants through these sessions remotely. Each group was given a choice about how to take part - some wrote the poems themselves, while others had a conversation with Beth, who wove their words into poetry, live in the moment, on her vintage typewriter.
Collectively, these will inspire a new poem for Bromley, which will be incorporated within the Time Machine Artwork. Further poem extracts and community stories will be displayed within the Story Seat and fellow interventions, embedding these voices into the High Street landscape.