Six Acres is a densely populated, spatially and socially complex 1960's housing estate recently renovated. The public square at the heart of the estate has been present but unusable for almost ten years of renovations. Whilst many of the buildings around it have changed, it has effectively been a dormant public space. Over the years with the combination of social problems and the dismembering of the square, the perception of this public space became associated with negative connotations of gathering. This project offered an opportunity to redefine this relationship.
Historically, the square was a common ground to rest animals en route to Market in London, and was known as ‘The Field’. The project took inspiration (and ultimately its name) from this idea of a commons for all.
In collaboration with the community and housing association, we initiated A Day at the Square, a one-day event with a wide range of social activities, film screenings, photographic portraits, parkour lessons etc. Occupying the square together in this way became an active re-designation of this space as useful, central and truly public once again. The event served to shift perceptions, stretch expectations, load the space with possibilities, and set the tone for the permanent works to come.
The Field is a 30 metre long polished black concrete ellipse, which tilts down towards the centre of the square. Surrounding streetlights lean into the space to further frame and stage the space. The Field is a physical anchor for social role of the square, facilitating a range of uses at any given time, without predetermining them: seating for someone to rest a moment on their way back from the shops; space for kids to walk alongside its length, for a couple of people stopping and chatting; for a wall for a game of football, a family picnic or community events.
The Field was a way of creating a framework to support and celebrate social space for the estate and passers-by, and through its use simultaneously becomes an active monument to the pleasure of gathering.
Commissioned by Up projects.