University Square Preston

Project: UCLan Student Centre & University Square
Location: Preston
Lead Architects: Hawkins\Brown

Landscape Architects: Plincke

Hard Landscaping Materials: Hardscape

Contractors: Bowmer + Kirkland

Artwork Budget: £100,000

Site Programme: 36 months
Service: Public Art Sub-Consultant
Artists (3 of 4): Halima Cassell MBE (Artist & Sculptor)

Awards: NW Regional Construction Awards 2021: ‘Lancashire Sub-Regional Project of the Year Award’

Commissioned by University of Central Lancashire (Uclan) to work as a sub-consultant under lead architects Hawkins\Brown, since 2017 Atoll has been developing an integrated public art strategy linked to the £60m Student Centre and University Square being built in Preston as part of the UCLan Masterplan – and is still due to complete in 2021 despite Covid-19.

A number of artist commissions have evolved out of that strategy following the earlier Testbed commission. These residencies have been developed in consultation with a public art steering group involving various stakeholders.

As part of these commissions, Preston-trained artist and sculptor Halima Cassell (who in 2021 was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours) has been commissioned to design a series of applied ‘Industrial Art’ works based on the her long interest in 3D tiling repeat patterns. Integrated directly into the actual design fabric of the public realm, these works once installed, will form decorative treatements to granite used in retaining walls and integrated seating sited around the university’s new square. These beautiful new pieces have been created collaboratively, with the artist working through Atoll’s assistance on a series of CAD-based setting-out drawings, with client Uclan; lead architects Hawkins\Brown; landscape architects Plincke; landscape materials suppliers Hardscape; and Main Contractors Bowmer + Kirkland.

These ‘2-Part Tessellation’ repeats are being created in a range of hard granite colours in both intricate 3D tiling as well as being directly carved into solid blocks. The artworks are all 3D-cut using Hardscape water jets controlled digitally by something called ‘CNC’ (computer numerical control).

Interviewed for the Uclan website in December 2021, Halima confirmed that: “My wall frieze focuses on arrows that catch the eye of passers-by and creates a weaving effect through the individual modules. Through this piece of work, I wanted to remember Lancashire’s weaving heritage and reflect on University forming a key element of the tapestry of life.

“In the designing of the book ends for the seats, the play with the natural and artificial light was important to me. I designed them to symphonize with the casted shadows to create a dramatic and ever-changing effect throughout the day and night.”

In November 2021 at the 15th annual North West Regional Construction Awards, Uclan Student Centre and University Square won the ‘Lancashire Sub-Regional Project of the Year Award’, and “The judges particularly liked the use of materials that reduced embodied carbon whilst still fully meeting client brief.”

Categories: Public Art

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