Cricklewood’s mobile town square

Civic ideas agency Spacemakers has created a mobile town square that will be transported by bike around Cricklewood next month to highlight a lack of public space in the area.

Civic ideas agency Spacemakers has created a mobile town square that will be transported by bike around Cricklewood next month to highlight a lack of public space in the area.

The fold-out square, designed by Studio Kieren Jones, will tour disused spaces in the north London community from August 31 to September 28, hosting a series of free events including a dog show, a film screening and a public dance.

Design agency Studio Hato has designed graphics for the square and will run workshops allowing people to create their own signs for it using pre-cut templates and stencils based on Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calver’s Transport typeface.

The project is funded by the Outer London Fund and is part an initiative to rejuvenate Cricklewood’s town centre. Spacemakers (which also worked on the re-generation of Brixton Village) was initially asked to transform empty shops in the area, but proposed the idea of a mobile town square after discovering a lack of public meeting points.

“Cricklewood’s a very busy community but it’s on the border of three London boroughs and has no library, no town hall, no benches – none of the things you’d expect in a town centre. We came up with the idea of creating a town square and wanted to set it up on a disused site, but the landlord wouldn’t let us, so the only option was to create something portable” says Spacemaker’s Tom James.

The ten metre-squared structure is made out of a five-wheel bike base and steel frame covered in plywood and faux-brick cladding. It has a clock tower with handmade clock, and will house benches and seats made by local suppliers using reclaimed materials.

“The clock tower is a reference to the Smiths clock factory that used to exist in Cricklewood, and to the decorative clock that used to exist on Anson Road, but which was sold for scrap during the war.  The structure is both a practical solution – a vehicle to move the kit around – and a folly, providing a civic backdrop, helping to frame the spaces. In a way, I hope this playful solution can be the town hall that Cricklewood never had,” says Jones.

The events programme will reference to the area’s heritage – film screenings will pay homage to now defunct local studios and a library will stock books by local authors – and Studio Hato’s workshops will allow residents to create signs for the space from pre-cut templates using official transport signage colours.

“We thought it would be nice to let residents decide how the space should look and set their own rules for it,” says Studio Hato designer Ken Kirton.

“The original Transport font was first designed for road signs in the UK and has since been used for wayfinding and permissions in boroughs across the country. It seemed a fitting reference for the project, in creating an ad hoc tool kit which references the established official language,” he adds.

On September 27, the square will visit a disused bingo hall, where speakers including architects and creatives will discuss the need for public spaces and how to create and use them.

After its tour, the structure will be donated to local group Creative Cricklewood and will become a permanent local fixture. “It’s a temporary project, but we hope it will encourage a long-term change in Cricklewood,” says James.

To find out more about the project and related events, see cricklewoodtownsquare.com

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