Art and Public Projects

I started the day by attending a discussion with the All-party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group about the relationship between art, design and architecture in major infrastructure projects, like the Jubilee Line, the Olympics, Heathrow Airport and now Crossrail.   There was interesting discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing:  designed by an artist (Ai Weiwei), but apparently regarded by engineers as an inefficient use of metal.   If it’s a choice between Heathrow Terminal 2, an architecturally worthy but dull building with an exciting art project by Richard Wilson, and Terminal 5, an architecturally very exciting building without such evident public art, I’m for the latter.

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2 thoughts on “Art and Public Projects

  1. Hello Charles
    T5 at Heathrow has indeed a huge number of very significant art works hanging in the BA lounges and one major commission between escalators, which the public, incidentally, can also view, albeit a little more obscurely. This kinetic ‘Cloud’ has won many awards and has been written about in numerous journals, newspapers,magazines all over the world. It’s by Troika and is an amazing piece of sculpture and also a feat of pioneering engineering which delights everyone who sees it. It was conceived to echo, in part, the lines and engineering of the Rogers building. There is also a major Langlands & Bell light sculpture which was commissioned by the CAS in the area between the car park and the main terminal. The Lounges are full of amazing pieces of art including works many RAs and the loos even have some Peter Doig and Patrick Caulfield prints hanging in them!!
    Crossrail are also trying to do some very exciting commissions in each of their main stations. I sit on the Crossrail arts panel and I was involved with the art programme for BA and commissions at T5.( although sadly not for the general BAA spaces, which I agree with you, in this case, are of very little merit). I am currently working with Conrad Shawcross RA on a very significant Sculpture which is being sited adjacent to St Pancras Station for the Crick Institute. All these projects have been very carefully considered and the art has or will add a very important aspect to the its buildings. It is my opinion that all significant building projects can and should be built with a strong art content as long as its done in collaboration with the architects, that the artist is selected intelligently and that the artist is then involved and has a voice from the start. It should never be done as decoration!

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