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Poole Streetscape Manual

Pools of Light

Harriet Bourne of B+B UK's initial appraisal of the project in 2003 referred to her intention that the design team would introduce 'themes' that would 'resonate' throughout the development zone. Within the area the team would propose an 'art zone' - "a place for installations rather than static pieces of art."

From the public consultations that took place during the preparation of the Manual, there arose a strong feedback that Poole's proximity to water was important to both local residents and visitors, and that long views afforded by the water should be exploited where possible. As a consequence of this feedback, the manual proposes two major themes, both of which will involve ideas and designs from artists.

Floating Landscapes:

The project's Art Strategy asks artists to explore the concept of 'flotation'. An idea is mooted for an area of 'literally floating landscape - a gently undulating surface which could move in harmony with the movement of the water and change in level with the passing tides'.

Pools of Light:

The regeneration area is intended to remain active after dark, with the objective of creating 'a nightscape of international uniqueness'. Thus has developed a 'pools of light' theme, using combinations of large circles of light illuminated from above and smaller circles of light set in the ground to delineate major pedestrian routes, and √ęspecial areas' such as an 'amphibitheatre' where 'public art or performance events could be staged'.

A 'Pools of Light' concept, described in the Manual as an 'art installation', has been created by the collaborative artists Vong Phaophanit and Clare Oboussier. Small clusters and large single pools of light of different dimensions will be scattered along the quayside (with 'echoes' on the other side of the harbour), formed by cutting circular sections out of the decked walkway. Using focal lighting, some would project upwards, others downwards and horizontally, illuminating the surface of the water. Some lights will be triggered by passers by, creating a 'choreography' of light.

The Pools of Light concept emerged from the artists' engagement with the process for the creation of Streetscape, and is integrally connected to the ethos and spirit of the architectural scheme for the regeneration of Poole. They chose the Hamworthy side of the new quayside area as the principal site for their proposed work because the completely reworked site provided an opportunity to produce an 'ambitious and uncompromised' work. It counterbalances the existing 'life' on the other side of the quay, bringing 'a fresh, simple energy' and new sense of circulation between the old and new bridges and both sides of Poole.

The artists chose to use water and light as the sole materials in their work rather than 'importing' an object and imposing it on the landscape and the residents. During their visits to Poole they realised that many residents were 'resistant to the idea of unconnected objects being imposed on their landscape. The streetscape manual is keen to resist the notion of art as an addition. It must be integral.'

The Manual specifies that 'Pools of Light' MUST be incorporated into the quayside promenades, major pedestrian routes and pedestrian links, and that 'developers and their designers MUST incorporate the idea and expression of 'Pools of Light' in their proposals, as a connecting feature on routes within and between their developments, in public spaces and in linking to the existing town'. However, the Manual differentiates between realisations of the idea of 'lighting in the floor as a line indicating a link or direction', and a 'more complex application, with differing sizes of light or the use of varying colour or intensity'. Considering the latter to comprise an art work, the Manual requires that in such cases the developer or the Council must refer to the artists for their consent to use the idea. The developer would then be expected to commission Vong Phaophanit and Clare Oboussier to incorporate 'Pools of Light' into their scheme. The artists must be acknowledged and protected from the infringement of their copyright, and 'their professional involvement in its realisation secured'.

© Copyright David Briers, 2005.