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At Countryside we have been incorporating public art into our developments for more than 20 years, particularly at large sites such as Great Kneighton in Cambridge and Beaulieu in Chelmsford, where we are building complete new neighbourhoods.

What's the role of public art in place making? - by Andrew Carrington

We believe that the introduction of good quality public art helps to create a better quality environment, enhancing the setting of the buildings, enriching people’s lives and above all establishing a distinctive character and sense of place of a new development.

Countryside works together with planning authorities and specialists in public art and cultural place making to ensure a public art strategy that will add value as well as contribute to the unique identity of a place.  The starting point for ideas is normally rooted in the character and heritage of the site, helping to link existing and new communities. 

Most of the artworks we commission are permanent such as sculptural pieces which act as focal points and landmarks or which have a function such as a bench, wayfinding system or hard landscaping. Creative public art initiatives are a great way to engage the community and get them involved.

At Great Kneighton in Cambridge we have a comprehensive public art programme under way.  Led by Futurecity, many of the initial concepts were sparked by ideas and stories from local people collected through a series of creative workshops.  Many of the artworks are inspired by the landscape and natural setting including:

  • A multi-media project by London Fieldworks focuses on biodiversity including a sculpture that forms a habitat for insects.
  • Nils Norman’s artwork encompasses bird screens and footbridges in the country park providing a perfect vantage point for visitors to observe wildlife. 
  • The sculpture for the central square by Heather and Ivan Morrison was inspired by archaeological discoveries on the site dating from the Bronze Age.
  • The art also encourages participation from the community – Simon and Tom Bloor are developing ‘Art & Play’ across the site to encourage interaction from all ages.
  • Artist in residence, Jeanne Van Hesswijk is working with residents through an inspiring series of projects which has already included delivering an artistic publication to local households and a year-long programme of themed events.

At Beaulieu in Chelmsford, an ambitious programme of public art devised by Alison Turnbull Associates is about to get under way, which will help to enhance the quality of our largest development ever and give Beaulieu its own distinct character. Sculptor Jane Ackroyd has been commissioned to produce sculptural pieces fabricated in corten steel, representing a group of deer as a focal point marking the first entrance to Beaulieu. The sculptures have been designed to reflect the heritage of the site, a former deer park once owned by King Henry VIII as part of his Tudor Palace and estate parkland known as ‘Beaulieu’.

Artworks are carefully designed to stand the test of time and weather gently as the development matures. Great Notley Garden Village in Braintree is an example of a highly successful community that we have created over the past 25 years. It includes an extensive programme of artworks which have well and truly become ingrained into the fabric of the landscape.

Andrew Carrington, Managing Director of Strategic Land


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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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