Military Square, Chatham
Artist: Christopher Tipping
Artwork Title: Chatham Placemaking Project
Client: Medway Council
Designer(s): LDA Design, London
Contractors: Project Centre, London
Manufacturer: IP Surfaces Ltd
Supplier: Hardscape Products Ltd
Public Art Consultants Francis Knight were appointed by Medway Council to work on the Chatham Placemaking Project, a government funded project to help regenerate Chatham. Francis Knight commissioned Lead Artist Christopher Tipping to deliver the permanent public art works for Chatham Town Centre as part of the public realm improvements. Working closely with LDA Design and Project Centre, Chris contributed to the master planning, detailed design phases, materials palette, and embedded art works.
With a proven track record, having been used for similar public realm projects in the area, Hardscape was brought in to deliver the iconic artwork features for the design from its manufacturing facility, IP Surfaces Ltd.
The main aim of the public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. The idea was to keep the area lively, whilst encouraging further use by all generations. Local schoolchildren and people working in local businesses were asked for their comments and input to the scheme. The design team listened to their stories and set about translating the ‘sound’ of their lives in words depicted within a ‘circle of words’ at Military Square.
The beauty of the finished scheme is reflected in the detail of the production techniques, with flamed Kobra granite being the predominant choice material. Medway Council had already specified this material for adjacent public realm works in the town, so it was key to ensuring continuity throughout. The Kobra granite was both sandblasted with text and waterjet-cut and inlaid with text in Royal White granite. Additionally, honed Kobra granite was sandblasted with text on the risers at St Johns steps.
In Military Square itself, an installation of 400 bespoke radius-cut monolithic blocks of granite were set into a 17m diameter circle, putting a circle of words at the centre of Military Square. 154 of these granite blocks have words, numbers and patterns sandblasted or inset into the surface with just over 400 words in total.
The brief sought to create an overwhelming sense of common ownership in the project and the execution certainly proved to do just that.