Continuity and Transformation: A Civic Heart for Chester-le-Street

By Katharina Borsi, Laura Hanks and Solmaz Khoshkholghi.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 10, 2014 $US5.00

Current urban policy approaches to town centres can be summarised through a cleaner, greener and safer approach. At the same time, the value of place and distinctiveness has been recognised as a cultural and economic asset. Public art is seen as helping to create memorable spaces and deliver additional value and greater connectivity with the local community, which in turn brings economic benefit and long-term sustainability (Open House / Art in the Open 2009). This paper seeks to identify how public art activates some of these generic descriptors. Chester-le-Street’s “Civic Heart,” the refurbished market square designed by public artist Jo Fairfax, serves to exemplify art’s formal, spatial, and symbolic contribution to the city. We interpret “Civic Heart” as what Aldo Rossi described as a primary element, that is, an urban artefact that is a receptacle of the site and its history but is also a catalytic element that contributes to the city’s pattern of change and transformation. Public art, in this reading, contributes to a dynamic understanding of place; one that bridges the site’s locale and history with the potential of the new and unexpected. The paper explores “Civic Heart” as an urban artefact through the facets of continuity and transformation.

Keywords: Public Art, Place, Urban Regeneration, Public Space, Agency, Identity Formation, Difference

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 9, Issue 1, December 2014, pp.23-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 10, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 485.152KB)).

Dr. Katharina Borsi

Lecturer, Director MArch Urban Design, Department of the Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Dr. Borsi is the director of the M.Arch. Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) programme in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham. She has previously been practicing as an architect and taught at the Architectural Association in London and the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow. Her research interests are urban history and theory, architectural and urban design, regeneration, and the design of innovation environments.

Dr. Laura Hanks

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Dr. Hanks is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Nottingham, where she leads the Master of Architecture in Theory and Design, and Year 5 of the Diploma in Architecture. Her research interests include contemporary museum design and the architectural expression of identities, and notable amongst her publications are Museum Builders II, Museum Making: Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions, and contributions to Architectural Design and ARQ.

Solmaz Khoshkholghi

PhD Student, Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Solmaz Khoshkholghi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Nottingham. She has previously been practicing as an architect and her interests include the creative city theories, creative industries and arts, and their importance in formation and transformation of urban places.