Place Services managed the commission of a series of new public artworks on behalf of Mclaren Group for the new student accommodation development on Mill Road, Cambridge.
A programme of community events and presentations were initiated at the launch for the project with the Mill Road Community and Cambridgeshire Collection and Archives, with the groups and local residents being involved throughout the development of the project.
The outcome, created by artist Kirsty Brooks, is a stunning glazed entrance to the Cam Foundry building. Screen-printed, enamel designs on the doors and side panels of the entrance reflect the history of the site. The design focuses on Romsey Town Cement and Lime Works, the former occupiers of the site. The resulting collaged design combines maps and planning documents for the late nineteenth century, including imagery and texts from the company’s paperwork and adverts.
The resulting design has been printed on each face of the double-glazed units, creating a layered effect when viewed. The layering is further enhanced as the sliding doors open; imagery becoming indistinguishable then returns to focus as you walk into the building, reflecting the transition both of the site and a student’s journey. On entering the building a further delight welcomes the viewer as the monotone exterior design transforms into one of vibrant colour, each colour referencing those used in the original archive material.
Alongside the glazed entrance Kirsty has designed four bespoke benches for the pocket park to the side of the Cam Foundry. When the cement works closed in 1919, the Cam Foundry and Ironworks occupied the site. The sculptural, cast concrete benches reflecting another layer of the site’s industrial history. The bench forms are based on a blacksmith’s hammer, a floor nail, a partly formed blacksmith’s tong and an ornamental gate curve. The ironworks, also known as ‘Mackintosh’s’, was active until the late 1960s as a forge, foundry and latterly a supplier of agricultural implements, and now is referenced through the four benches and name of the student accommodation building.