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Market Estate Project | Art in Architecture

March 12, 2010

Last weekend in London, over 75 artists exhibited more than 66 works inside 20 vacant flats of a neglected 1960’s housing estate scheduled for demolition almost the next day. Why? Undoubtedly a clever way to draw attention to the work of unknown artists, you can’t say that for such a shortlived limelight, any of them weren’t in it simply for the love of art, and architecture. Hello and goodbye to the Market Estate Project.

Overlooked by the Ornate Clock tower on what was once the Metropolitan Cattle Market, near Caledonian Road, the Market Estate in Islington is a public housing complex erected in 1967 by the Greater London Council and designed by architects Farber & Bartholomew which fell into disrepair and whose once-stately apartments ended up a dodgy site plagued by drugs and prostitution. When attempts at halting the decline failed, the situation worsened with the removal of interconnected walkways and communcal gardens.

Set to undergo a complete redevelopment by a housing association and private contractor (and designed by HTA Architects) who will replace the 271 flats and maisonettes with 67 affordable and 120 private homes in a low-rise traditional street pattern, the existing delapidated building was set to be torn down this past Monday, March 8th.  When Central St Martin’s graduate Gadi Spruktand and his mate became temporary caretakers of the building last May, news of this got them thinking that it would be the perfect site for a vernissage and a way to engage the arts and local community.

As founders of the arts regeneration practice, TallTales, they approached the estate owners with their idea to occupy the decaying spaces with vibrant site-specific art pieces just a few days before tearing it all down, which unsurprisingly, the owners readily recognized as an opportunity and hip way to promote the new development: “We were pleased to be able to support artists in a project that enriches the immediate community – an amazing way to welcome in the estate’s new name, Parkside Place.”

Out of 300 artists that applied to participate in the project, 75 were selected to fill the squalid flats, eery hallways , flaking walls and winding staircases of the derelict building with graffiti, illustrations and installations inspired by the structure’s social, historical and architectural significance. On display for just a day before the bulldozers bully through, the concept behind such a genuine display of art is appropriately, just as dramatic as the change that the neighborhood will experience in the next few years.

Watch this video from the Guardian for the story and a tour through the site and the artworks, including that of Catalan artist Agustín Coll, who created fictional chararcters inspired by the architecture and did murals to outline the site’s history from the Clocktower in Victorian times to the regeneration.

More photos of the site and artworks:

Photo: Christian Nyampeta on flickr

Fluorescent Yellow Room by Jess Blandford & Joe Morris at The Market Estate Project.

Photo: Clara Molden | Flourescent Yellow Room by Jess Blandford & Joe Morris

A peeling light fitting

Photo: Alex Springer

A mural of the Metropolitan Cattle Market clock tower

Photo: Alex Springer | A mural of the Metropolitan Cattle Market clock tower by Spanish illustrator Agustín Coll

Photo: Rob Baker Ashton

Photo: Alex Springer

Photo: Alex Springer

Photo: Rob Baker Ashton

Photo: Alex Springer

The artists used materials reclaimed from the building to construct their work

Photos via The Independent and the Market Estate Project’s photostream on flickr

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