Creative Conversations on our Public Spaces

Creative Conversations on our Public Spaces

https://www.youtube.com/embed/oDscNV7Zyl8


We all use the town centres on our doorstep, but what makes us linger and use them as a place to gather with friends, play with the kids and feel proud of the place we call home? We explored the ideas of re-designing our public spaces by attending a meeting led by architects and artists about an ambitious future for Paignton Station Square.

Now, there's a love-hate relationship with Station Square in Paignton; on one hand, it's a busy -hustle-and-bustle environment with people from all walks of life crossing paths on either the train, bus or dodging through the one-way system. On the other hand, if you look down from the train crossing bridge, you literally stare into Paignton's heritage through the Square's almost untouched original architecture, at a junction that houses Paignton Picture House, the Steam Railway and rows of glorious buildings from the past. 

But this area has become consumed by cars, rather than a meeting point or a place of celebration for people. That's why TDA (Torbay Development Agency) have teamed up with Kay Elliott Architects and Torbay Culture (as part of the Great Place Scheme) to creatively come together and drastically improve Station Square for businesses, visitors but, most importantly, Paignton residents. After seeing how the Abbey Sands development changed the face of Torquay, Kay Elliott Architects and TDA are now looking at how public space design can change one of the busiest parts of Paignton and by asking local residents, business owners, and artists for their ideas and feedback. We attended their latest meeting to find out more.

Inside Paignton Library was a room bursting with questions and ideas about the future of Paignton Station Square. Leading the session, was Doorstep Arts co-founder Erin Walcon, whose enthusiasm for Paignton and the project kept everyone in high spirits and searching for the creative answers to this public space design challenge. It might not be the usual environment you'd find a co-founder of a theatre company, but Erin Maclon believes that artists have a crucial role to play in helping us all solve every day issues. 

I think artists are good problem solvers and are good at overcoming knotty, sticky situations which often is the reality when you’re dealing with this urban planning question. So I think it’s about getting artists into those spaces where artists might not ordinarily be, which is really important, and getting the people who might not ordinarily work in a creative way.
— Erin Walcon, Co-director and Co-founder of Doorstep Arts

People were brought together in small groups to discuss the project and encouraged through a series of exercises to express their ideas and opinions through writing and drawing. This wasn't your typical public consultation and the conversations much more expressive and deeper than we've seen before. On each group's table were invited representatives from the recently-appointed design team; QSPM, Kay Elliott, Phil Jones Associates and lead artist Ginkgo Projects. People were able to ask designers questions and equally the designers learnt what people really want and need from this space; with the real possibility that their ideas will shape the future of Paignton Station Square. 


Torbay Council have provided £1.2m of funding for Paignton Station Square and construction will take place between January and June 2019. Watch the space develop and find out more here: http://www.investintorbay.com/town-centres-regeneration/a-phased-approach-to-town-centre-regeneration/

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