Group 38
BARE CREATIVES

Our project aims to realise an affordable live/work space for local artists in St Helens, while also promoting the potential reuse and revitalization of St Mary’s Market. Through a public exhibition showcasing student visualisations in collaboration with the artists, we hope to engage with the local community and celebrate the hidden opportunities of creatives in the area. Our vision is to create an artist-led, sustainable and accessible space that reflects the needs of everyday artists and contributes to the livability and vibrancy of the town. As part of Liverpool's Borough of Culture 2023, we believe that by investing in the creative potential of St Helens, we can uncover positive social impacts, foster community engagement, and inspire a new vision for the future of the town.

Download Final Report

Xze Shean Andrea G / Kirstin Kher Ting L / Violet S / Mengxuan L / Sanjidah C / Francis R

Poster Navigation and Thought Processes

“BARE CREATIVES!”

Toying between the title options of Bare Creatives and Naked Studios, we decided to go with a project name that sounds local, is eye-catching and on the lines of being provocative, as it is in a way a call to expose the situations artists are in - a kind of initiative protest? Exposing to the public (and planners) everything happening ground-up: unaffordability, the loss of work and living space due to large scale regeneration, and the lack of care. The bareness or nakedness uncovers this vulnerability, making connections to diversity, inclusive creativity, and “the warmth of home, bodies”.

We have colour-coded our blog posts to hopefully ease navigation through them as we continue to update you on our progress. The blog sections are divided according to the colour scheme from the Reside* (IG: @artistledsthelens) exhibition in conjunction with the St Helens Borough of Culture Launch, mapping the creativity in St Helens. These sections include:
•Team Introductions
•Meetings/Visits
•Collaborators
•Thoughts/Process
•Outputs/Action Week

The poster combines the Artists’ Mapping and an illustration pack made by Grace (IG: @onethousandprinces) from a previous consultation with local artists about the same raw above-mentioned issues of artists without studios.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:21
Hi! I’m Violet, I am a Master of Architecture Student in the SKN Atelier, whilst also working in practice one day a week. I am new to Manchester and am loving living in a city.

I am an artist at heart, who uses painting to relax. I see architecture as another form of artwork, with people at the centre. I am passionate about sustainability and making a change on the world. I love finding unique bargains, vintage shopping in my spare time.

I’ve been lucky to have had experience working on a Social Value project, mapping the social value of a town in Reading to make a change for the community based on their needs and wants. The artists of St. Helens are so interesting and diverse in their skills and interests, that they truly deserve a space where their creativity can prosper. I am excited to help them create the studio space that they truly need.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:34
Hey everyone! I’m Sanji, a Master of Architecture student at the MSA, in the flux atelier. Just moved to Manchester quite recently, so still getting to know the ins and outs of the place, as well as finding the best café spots around town.

Always leaving little pieces of myself wherever I go around the globe; travelling most definitely has my soul. I cherish cosy, autumn nights and spend nearly all of my time in fictional worlds, when I’m not admiring art. Even though my days and nights are consumed by architecture, I find little gaps in time where I run my small artistic business!

I’m super stoked to be working on this project with St Helens as it encompasses all I believe in and look forward to making a difference, with a brilliant squad.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:37
Hi everyone! I'm Kirstin, a Master of Architecture Student currently based in Atelier Making at Manchester School of Architecture. As an international student abroad, I always find myself finding pieces of “home” in unfamiliar places and strive to do the same in the shoes of the artists in this project.

I am currently writing a dissertation on (un)hidden art scenes in the city, as many of my interests revolve around the mixing of cultures, social contradictions and ground-up approaches to art, architecture...and everything in between! Having been part of SSOA Live Projects and worked in Progress in Practice, I hope to be able to bring the same collaborative and sustainable ethos to the table.

Looking ahead, I am incredibly excited to be engaging with all the artists and our MSA Live dream team to make real changes in St Helens, and cannot wait to collaborate with everyone who will be involved!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:39
Hi all! I’m Andrea, a Master of Architecture student currently studying at the Manchester School of Architecture in the Atelier Continuity in Architecture.

By day, I am an architecture student and by night I take on small illustration projects for an independent architecture magazine based in Malaysia. Art has always played a significant role in my life, and working on small illustration projects on the side keeps me sane after a full day of staring at architectural drawings.

I’m always down to explore new and weird ideas and I hope collaborating with my teammates and the artists, we are able to come out with unique takes on adapting St Mary’s Market into an artist studio.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:40
Hello, I'm Harry and in the atelier flux. I was enticed by the interplay between atmosphere and regeneration in the first place. I'm motivated by the kind of architecture that keeps the end-users and the neighbourhood it's being constructed at the heart of the project. My ambition is to be an architect that could make a difference, creating projects that not only take into account the environment but also live up to people's and communities expectations. Throughout my time in Manchester, I have become interested in filmmaking and interpretive dance. I have an unwavering commitment to boules, I spend plenty of time practising and competing in tournaments. My zest and enthusiasm for my sport, I also carry to my profession. I also like pancakes.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:42
Hey! I am Sophia. I’m a Master of Architecture Student based in Atelier Flux. I just moved to the UK and really enjoy it so far.

I love photography, which I use to record my feelings and the beauty I see. From my point of view, architecture and photography are both approaches that allow me to discover things and express myself.

Working with artists provides me with another perspective on things and I really enjoy this project. I hope that by working with the local community, our efforts can make a difference in artists' studio spaces.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 18:48
Meet our collaborators! Artists Rebecca Ainsworth, Claire Weetman and Grace Collins are Platform Arts, based in Platform Studios – the space above St Mary's Market in St Helens. Platform Arts is exploring the idea of a live/work space for the local artists as the town centre undergoes redevelopment.

The artists have seen demand for space in Platform Studios and have recently worked with over 50 local artists for the Art in Empty Shops project. This lived experience has shown Platform Arts the real need for workspaces for artists in the local area.

They reckon there's not a lot of suitable living spaces in St Helens for single professionals either, with most dwellings being family homes. So, Platform Arts is looking into how it can tackle both of these issues with a live/work space for artists. Plus, it's exploring the potential of a community land trust model which could counteract the power that landlords have over the sustainability of art spaces.

Check them + their ongoing projects out on Instagram @artistledsthelens!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 22:17
1st Collaborative Meeting (07/12/2022)

Our first time meeting the collaborators Claire and Grace.

Not knowing anything about each other at all, us students and the collaborators had many interesting conversations to get to know each other and already found relatable quirks/patterns between art and architecture: ideas galore, mixed media madness, the struggles of subjectivity and the like!

While we forgot to get a group photo of the session, the illustrations made and gifted by Grace in themselves depict the entire ethos of their drive for this project – hand-made pieces of art showing the raw emotions and helplessness of artists having their studios and (only) everyday spaces potentially taken away in the blindsided push for regeneration.

Contrary to the heavy issues mentioned, all of us left with light hearts and cannot wait to see where this real world project takes us.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 22:38
1st Site Visit to St Helens (04/02/2023)

We took the morning train to St Helens – a first time there for the most of us. The train ride there with Grace was enjoyable as we reminisced about going on field trips in back in school, and were given a road-crossing tour of sunny Wigan en route to our destination.

Arriving in St Helens, we were greeted by St Helens’ pride for glassblowing along the walls of the train station in beautiful graffiti. Claire brought us to through the town centre and into St Mary's Market, through the maze of stalls and up some spiral stairs into Platform Studios overlooking the glass façade of the building enveloping the maker's market.

Gathering thoughts and first impressions, we spent some time talking to Claire and Grace in and about their studios, admiring the sprawled artworks of different artists who occupied the studios at different times. Everything was as they'd described: their admin/office, work studio, pantry, and exhibition space all contained in one transient floorspace in a shopping mall no longer valued. Creativity overspilling onto the floors, the walls, through the windows, the ceilings. So much potential!

We were then invited to St Helens World of Glass which also housed the library and community event space, where we were given the opportunity to speak to the local artists in conjunction with one of their residency events organised by Claire. Moving from the almost-abandoned shopping mall to the contemporary landmark of the town was truly eye-opening, as we were shown the irony of the situation everyone was in – the needs and wants for comfortable spaces but the unattainability of gentrified regeneration.

The key takeaway from the visit was an observation made by Claire, that it was great to have fresh new takes on a place they were all too familiar with, and it relit a fire of hope that their studios could potentially be saved.
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:27
2nd Collaborative Meeting – Plans, Strategies, Structure (15/02/2023)

Prior to contacting the artists for the next meeting, we came together as a group in MTC to merge ideas and establish a timeline and potential outputs for the project.

Armed with the bounty of past MSA Live project booklets and tokens from our site visit, we collectively brainstormed our next steps with special consideration for the BA students who will be joining us in a few months. Using the given deadlines as anchor points, we had to consider the timings and schedules of the busy local and full-time artists in St Helens as well as our university hand-in dates before proposing our plan and workload.

At the end of the day, we decided that – in the spirit of artists and the joy in finding creativity in all things, we will keep our Action Week outputs simple and open to adaptation and changes following the collaboration between students and artists; but with the end goal of pushing the project beyond just consultations and towards making it real (ie to gear up for future planning proposals).
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:49
3rd Collaborative Meeting (06/03/2023)

With our rough timelines and output ideas on the table, we had an online meeting with Claire to refresh our agendas and mark our calendars.

The meeting was very productive and, like all our meets so far, ended up with exchanges of creativity – this time with Claire showing us about 5 canvases of artwork from the studio on video call while we were discussing further artistic connections and local ideas.

We absolutely can't wait to show you what we have in store for you!
Posted 12 Mar 2023 23:56
1st Action Week

The first week of our action plan aims to familiarize ourselves with St. Helens' artistic community. We will be focusing on understanding the needs and wants of local artists in St. Helens. This will involve conducting a site visit to gain insight into the current state of the artist spaces and the community's expectations for their redevelopment. Through this process, we hope to develop a deep understanding of the community's needs and incorporate these findings into our future design proposals. Ultimately, our goal is to create a space that fosters creativity and innovation while also meeting the practical needs of the artists who will be using it.
Posted 9 May 2023 23:46
Day 1: Site Visit

The BA1 & BA2 students had the opportunity to meet with the collaborators and visit the artist studios to explore the potential opportunities for the project. The aim of this session was to get the students acquainted with the project, the collaborators, and the artists' needs and wants.

During the visit to the artist studios, the students were able to observe and analyze the existing structures and surroundings. They were able to identify potential areas for improvement and gather information that would be useful in the later stages of the project. The students also had the opportunity to interact with the artists and learn about their vision for the space, which helped to inform the brainstorming session that followed.

The visit to the artist studios was an important part of the first day's action plan as it allowed the students to gain a better understanding of the site and its potential.
Posted 9 May 2023 23:52
During the site visit, the BA1 & BA2 students were provided with a briefing at St Mary's Market to give them an overview of the project's objectives and goals. The briefing allowed the students to understand the scope of the project and its impact on the community of St Helens.

After the briefing, the students visited the artist studios to explore the opportunities that exist within the current site. This provided the students with an insight into the challenges and potential solutions that could be implemented in the project design. They were able to gain a better understanding of the space and the artists' requirements.

Following the visit to the artist studios, the group took a tour around the town of St Helens to gain a deeper understanding of the local area and the target audience. The students were able to observe the behaviour of people in the town and analyze the factors that contribute to their needs and wants. This helped the students to generate ideas and develop strategies that would cater to the needs of the community. Overall, the site visit was crucial in providing the students with practical experience and insights that would guide them in their subsequent activities.
Posted 9 May 2023 23:57
During the site visit, BA1 & BA2 students were actively engaged in the process of exploring and documenting the site. They used their sketching and photography skills to capture the essence of the St. Mary's market and the surrounding areas. The students were keen to document everything from the buildings to the people, and they showed great enthusiasm and creativity throughout the exercise. Their sketches and photographs are an important record of the site and will serve as inspiration for the design process that will follow.

Sketches and Photography by Letitia Zhao
Posted 10 May 2023 00:33
Sanji's Thoughts - MA1

The site visit to St Helens provided a brilliant insight into the atmosphere of artists in the area and their ideal artistic space. The experience encouraged BA students to interact with the collaborators and share ideas while getting to know one another. This interaction created a bond between collaborators and students, allowing for more productive collaboration. The site visit was engaging and provided an opportunity to see the target audience's needs and wants first-hand. Overall, the experience was a positive step towards developing innovative proposals for the artist spaces, and the learning outcomes from the day will contribute to the success of the project.
Posted 10 May 2023 18:45
Day 2: Idea Development

We focused on developing proposals to reimagine the St Helens artists' studios. In the morning session, each person had the opportunity to develop their own scheme, which provided a great platform for students to showcase their creativity and individuality. In the afternoon, we joined back together to combine our ideas and perspectives, which allowed for a more collaborative and synergistic approach to the project.

After that, we split into groups, and each group was tasked with proposing solutions for the artist studios, ranging from minimal changes to a completely new build. This allowed us to explore a wide range of possibilities and encouraged us to think outside the box. By the end of the day, we had developed some exciting ideas that had the potential to revolutionize the artist studios in St Helens. We were able to leverage our individual strengths and creativity to come up with innovative and impactful proposals.
Posted 10 May 2023 19:20
At the start of our day, we engaged in an ice-breaking activity where each of us was asked to bring an item that represented us. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other beyond our roles as architects and to discover our diverse interests and passions. Some people brought objects that showcased their love for music, while others brought items related to art or crocheting. It was refreshing to see that everyone had something unique and personal to share.
Posted 10 May 2023 21:56
The BA students were divided into two groups, with one assigned to document the artist studios, while the other group was tasked with reimagining the spaces.

Documenting the Artist Studios
One of the groups was tasked to document the artist studios using Autocad. The BA students utilized the images they had taken during the site visit to ensure the accuracy of their documentation. Using AutoCAD, they created detailed representations of the studios, which provided a comprehensive overview of the space. This task allowed the students to practice and improve their technical skills while also gaining a deeper understanding of the artist studios through hands-on experience.

Reimagining the Artist Studios
Another group was assigned to reimagine the artists' spaces by creating sketches. They were tasked to come up with creative ideas and suggestions on how to improve the existing artist studios. By sketching out their ideas, they were able to visualize the potential changes and improvements that can be made in the space. This activity also allowed them to practice their design skills and think critically about how to make the space more functional and aesthetically pleasing for the artists who will be using it.

Posted 10 May 2023 22:46
Final Outcomes

At the end of the day, the students had created several outcomes from their work. The group assigned to reimagine the artists' spaces produced conceptual sketches that showed their ideas and visions for how the space could be transformed. These sketches showed their creative ideas and the potential for the space.

Overall, the day's activities provided an opportunity for the students to explore and engage with the artist studios in a meaningful way. The conceptual sketches and digital visualizations created by the students showcase their creativity and technical abilities, while also highlighting the potential for the space to be reimagined and transformed in new and exciting ways.

Sketches and Visualisations by Amani Ogundeko, Da Lan, Finbar Smith, Letitia Zhao, Remon Salami & Mohammed Al Girgeet
Posted 10 May 2023 23:05
Landa's Thoughts- BA1

I learnt the necessity of knowing the special configuration of the site in order to generate designs, instead of seeing limitations as a weakness, rather using them as opportunities in the design process.
Posted 10 May 2023 23:19
Day 3: Proposal Development

On the third day of the project, the focus was on execution, and the students were split into groups to work on producing visualisations and a physical model. Each group was given the task of bringing their ideas and concepts to life through a combination of digital and physical representation. The groups were able to use the documentation and sketches from the previous days as a foundation for their designs but also had the freedom to explore their own unique interpretations of the space.
Posted 11 May 2023 20:21
At the beginning of the day, the students were divided into two groups: the physical model-making group and the visualisation group.

The physical model-making group was tasked with constructing the existing artist studios. This task required them to explore their creativity in a tangible way.

On the other hand, the visualisation group was tasked with producing digital visualisations of their reimagined artist workshops. This task allowed them to explore their own unique interpretations of the space and develop their creative and technical skills.
Posted 11 May 2023 20:26
In the second half of the day, the students reconvened with their respective groups to review and discuss the designs they had produced earlier. The main focus of the discussion was to identify commonalities and differences between each group's designs and how they could be combined to create a cohesive and comprehensive plan.

The students were tasked with translating their abstract ideas and concepts into concrete drawings that could be used as a blueprint for the actual construction of the artist workshops. This required careful consideration of the technical aspects of their designs, such as dimensions, materials, and structural elements.

By working together and pooling their ideas, the students were able to come up with a range of feasible designs that were both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This exercise not only challenged the students to think critically about their designs but also gave them an opportunity to collaborate and communicate effectively as a team.
Posted 11 May 2023 20:28
Final Outcomes

After the discussion, we were able to merge the ideas generated by the two groups and create two schemes for the artists' studios. The first scheme involved minimal changes to the existing layout, while the second scheme incorporated more drastic changes.

The minimal scheme focused on minor adjustments to the current layout, such as changing the placement of furniture and optimizing the use of space. This scheme aimed to enhance the current functionality of the artist workshop without the need for major structural changes.

On the other hand, the drastic scheme aimed to reimagine the entire space by incorporating new design elements and spatial configurations. This scheme involved significant structural changes and would require more extensive renovations to the artist workshop.

Overall, by producing two schemes with different degrees of change, we were able to provide options that cater to a wide range of preferences and needs. The next step would be to develop drawings and visualizations of the two schemes to further refine and communicate our ideas.

Visualisations done by Amani Ogundeko, Letitia Zhao & Lily Clarke
Posted 11 May 2023 20:31
Finbar's Thoughts- BA1

I enjoyed the group conversations and felt comfortable voicing my opinions on the project, everyone had an input and got involved. Working on a project for a shorter amount of time was refreshing and coming up with new ideas at a faster pace was a nice change
Posted 11 May 2023 20:38
Day 4: Developing Plans

Today, the students shifted their focus to developing their design ideas into concrete plans. This involved taking the abstract concepts and ideas generated in the previous days and translating them into detailed and specific drawings, diagrams, and models. The students worked at a steady pace throughout the day, with one group continuing their model-making while another group focused on finalizing visuals for the A1 board.
Posted 12 May 2023 21:04
The use of the 1:100 scale figures and furniture provided a tangible representation of the space, enabling the students to see how the furniture would fit in the space and how people would interact with it. This allowed the students to make more informed decisions about the placement and layout of the furniture, ensuring that it would be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Additionally, the students were provided with a website that contained dimensions for furniture and fixtures commonly used in design projects. This resource allowed the students to have a quick and easy reference for the dimensions of the furniture they were working with, saving them time and ensuring that their plans were accurate.
Posted 12 May 2023 21:09
Developing plans involved a more technical and precise approach, as they had to consider the dimensions of the furniture and spaces in order to create detailed and accurate plans.

In order to facilitate this process, the students participated in a session where furniture and human figures to a 1:100 scale were printed out. They were then able to experiment with different configurations of the furniture and figures within their plans, allowing them to test and refine their designs.
Posted 12 May 2023 21:25
Amani's Thoughts- BA1

The thing I learned was about layout and scale in plan drawings and that it’s useful to print out people and furniture to scale to use to test out different layouts. so it overall helps you see the scale and the most efficient layout to draw a plan.
Posted 15 May 2023 17:33
2nd Action Week

During the second week of our action plan, our focus is on finalizing design scheme leading up to the last day for consultation and feedback before the exhibition. Overall, our aim is to create comprehensive and visually impactful designs for the artists of St Helens.
Posted 15 May 2023 18:05
Day 5: Finalising the Scheme

The students are fully focused on completing their proposals for the artist studios. This day is crucial as it marks the final stage of their design development. Throughout the session, we provide the students with continuous feedback and guidance to ensure that their proposals align with the project objectives and meet the required standards. We provide guidance on various aspects, such as spatial configurations, material selection, and overall design coherence.
Posted 15 May 2023 18:56
The students are fully engaged in bringing their designs to fruition. They dedicate their time and energy to perfecting their visualizations, ensuring that they accurately depict their proposed artist studios. Simultaneously, the students continue with the model-making process, refining and adding any remaining elements to complete their physical models. They pay close attention to the scale and proportions. This process allows them to understand the spatial relationships and physical aspects of their designs in a tangible way.

Posted 15 May 2023 19:00
Final Outcomes

As the design development stage nears its end, it is truly gratifying to witness the students' enthusiasm and engagement with a variety of artistic mediums. They have embraced the opportunity to explore and experiment with different tools and techniques, including digital art, watercolor, and physical model making. This diverse range of mediums allows them to express their ideas in unique and creative ways, adding depth and richness to their design proposals.

Physical Model & Sketches by Landa, Mohammed & Amani
Posted 15 May 2023 19:02
Letitia's Thoughts- BA1

It has been exciting to work on a project that could have real-life impacts as well as being able to interact with students across different stages of the course.
Posted 15 May 2023 19:04
Day 6: Final Touches

Today the students worked tirelessly to add finishing touches their models and illustrations, to get them presentation-ready. We worked together to come up with pointers and ran through proposal tagline headers and descriptions, linking them to case studies and design precedents in preparation for consultant discussions. The students also benefited from some ad-hoc Enscape rendering tips, Photoshopping shortcuts and "Sketchup life hacks" for exporting to enhance their digital workflows for future projects.
Posted 16 May 2023 20:42
Following the design finalisations, the students worked hard throughout the day producing both physical and digital visuals and drawings ready to be printed and mounted on the consultation boards organised for Thursday. Guided by varying individual styles and creative skills, the boards coming together celebrated the merging of their work and collaboration in reorganising tiny details - final touches and realised outputs.
Posted 16 May 2023 20:45
Model Outputs

Working towards the presentation outputs, both the digital and physical models of the existing spaces (Platform Studios in St Mary's Market, St Helen's) and the student proposals were refined following useful peer-to-peer feedback. These models, both realistic as well as conceptual, will be used to visually communicate the proposed ideas to the artists and the public during the consultation, alongside the graphic-heavy presentation boards made to showcase the processes and outcomes from start to finish.
Posted 16 May 2023 21:05
Kirstin's Thoughts - MA1

It’s so fulfilling sharing tips and tricks in our everyday workflow, having had more experience to share as MA students as compared to the BAs; with little things like Landa ecstatically showing off photoshop texture layering effects he just learned today absolutely making my day.

The entire live project has really been eye opening in terms of working with different ideas flying at each other from all directions - together as a team. It’s been rewardingly fun and we’re nervous but excited for consultation day to showcase these different spatial perspectives to the artists and the public!
Posted 16 May 2023 21:07
Day 7: Designs refined, postcards printed, models completed, and presentations rehearsed. Ready for the big day tomorrow!

Today was a flurry of activity as we made the final preparations for the upcoming public consultation. The students worked diligently to put the finishing touches on their design proposals, ensuring that every detail was perfected. Additionally, we printed a batch of vibrant postcards to be distributed to the public, capturing the essence of our project and inviting them to join us in celebrating the creativity of St Helens. The models were meticulously completed, showcasing the envisioned artist studios in all their glory. To top it off, the students engaged in a mock presentation, honing their delivery and fine-tuning their pitches. With everything in place, we are excited and ready to share our designs and ideas with the artists of St Helen's tomorrow.
Posted 17 May 2023 17:29
Mock Presentation

To ensure that our students are well-prepared for the upcoming public consultation, we conducted a mock presentation today. This exercise served as a valuable opportunity for the students to showcase their design proposals and receive constructive feedback. Each student had the chance to present their work, explaining their design concepts, highlighting key features, and articulating their vision for the artist's studios.
Posted 17 May 2023 17:30
Final touches on the physical model

In the final stages of preparation for the public consultation, our dedicated students focused on adding the final touches to the model that would be presented tomorrow. With meticulous attention to detail, they worked diligently to ensure that every aspect of the model accurately represented their design proposals for the artist studios in St Helens.
Posted 17 May 2023 17:31
Printing

In preparation for the public consultation, we took the important step of printing all the design proposals onto A1 boards. This allowed us to present the students' work in a visually impactful and professional manner, capturing the attention and imagination of the audience.

We also recognized the value of engaging with the local community and creating a lasting impression. To achieve this, we printed mini-sized postcards featuring highlights of each design. These postcards served as a tangible takeaway for the people of St Helens.
Posted 17 May 2023 18:44
Mohammed's thoughts- BA2

I have enjoyed working with the group and getting a different perspective, working on such a short project is exciting as the ideas progress quicker and i got to see a different way of carrying out a project having to come up with quick design solutions.
Posted 17 May 2023 18:45
Day 8: Consultation Day

Thursday, 18th May 2023, 11:30am-4pm in St Mary’s Market. The big day! Energy levels were high as we kicked off the long-awaited community consultation, of which the local planning authority and creatives were invited to, to form new connections between different parties and encourage conversations about the regeneration of St Helens in relation to the resident artists and people who have made the market their homes.

The consultation also served as a precursor event running up to the Artist-Led Reside* artist residency program and city regeneration consultation scheduled for the coming weekend.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:18
Art x Architecture

Taking the train from Oxford Road to St Helens Central, the students arrived in St Mary’s Market at 10:45am to help set up the consultation boards and models on easels brought by the artists - and utilised the existing market tables and pathways. The grand glass atrium of the market served as the backdrop to the display, set up to attract inquisitive members of the public towards our displays and invite fruitful discussions. The proposal boards were curated and organised according to the level of change made on the existing scheme: from feasible and practical to radical and utopian - inviting a wide range of ideas to comment on.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:19
Sparking Conversations

The students showed amazing initiative when it came to engaging with the artists, planners, each other, the public, and curious passers-by who were interested in our display - conversing their way through the layers upon layers of ideas each proposal stood for. We quickly realised the benefits of being part of these intimate discussions, where you find out easily overlookable things like “oh, I wish that ceiling could be lowered so shorter people like me could reach equipment there” that would have never been thought to be prioritised amongst our architectural plans and technical approaches.

Looking to the future, these enjoyable conversations revealed the crucial need for more collaboration and exchanges of information between designers, their clients, and everyone involved in between - no matter how “unimportant” some of the aspects might perceive to be. Every little change truly does go a long way.

Posted 19 May 2023 17:20
Final Outcomes

We unveiled the proposal visualisation boards, printed student-made postcards and two 1:100 proposal models to the artists and the public, made to communicate our ideas through different means and perceptions - visual, spatial, creative arts and conversational.

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to see our student work showcased in public, printed and out in the open…as we haven’t gotten to the chance to do pin-ups in studio so this is nice.” - Letitia, BA1
Posted 19 May 2023 17:21
Proposal 1: Glass & Canvas (by Finbar and Letitia)

When looking to expand upon the art studio space in St Mary’s market, we planned to preserve the culture of the space through using architectural elements synonymous with British markets. We intend to pay homage to the heritage of the market, while complementing the contemporary setting, by combining the sleek, angular forms of modern architecture with the materiality and ornate motifs of a traditional marketplace.

The prominent use of glass and wrought iron in this design is reminiscent of Victorian-era architecture, with decorative motifs and ornamentation present throughout the design. The traditional metal frameworks hold large glass panes that create a pleasant light-filled studio and multi-use space below. The extension will provide a comfortable amount of space for the artists of St Helen’s and the outdoor multi-use space will draw in a wider audience, creating a bustling scene and restoring the buzz to the market. At the rear of the building, we have introduced a set of stairs and a ramp, making the building accessible for all.

This proposal re-imagines St Mary’s Market as a vibrant center of creative thought for all, with a flexibility of outdoor use that caters to a wide variety of users, whether they are an artist themselves, or curious about the arts and looking to learn more.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:22
Proposal 2: Cosy Cove (by Mohammed, Landa and Remon)

The aim of this proposal is to connect the growing art community with the wider community by transforming St Helens marketplace into a cosy home for art, culture and the community.

Our modular approach aims to create a flexible work/live environment where artists can live, create and exhibit their art by having hybrid spaces where art can be created collectively or individually in personal pods on the ground floor, along with plenty of space for exhibiting and showcasing art.

Through our proposal we have very carefully considered the wider community where we have designated exhibition spaces for displaying glass installations from the World of Glass museums to make St Helens market place a cultural and creative hotspot.

To achieve a sustainable project we have used recycled industrial material for the construction of the pods to complement the industrial theme of the existing site while creating a cosy space and neighbourhood for the community to make it their own.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:24
Proposal 3: Atrium Artspace (by Amani and Kiki)

For the initial design ideas, we decided to add an artistic element to the space to encourage more young artists to the area. We wanted to utilise the large empty space on the ground floor by adding more open studios to make the space more collaborative and engaging and adding life back to area.

This scheme can be seen as transient or temporary, with the flexibility to be converted into spaces for external events which could potentially also generate income for the stakeholders involved. At the same time, it acts as a traditional gallery space in the cloak of the old marketplace and contemporary potential - a simple makeover that provides unexpected change and rejuvenation, perhaps?
Posted 19 May 2023 17:26
Proposal 4: Studio Re-Openings (MA1 pilot project)

This scheme features flexible and adaptable elements to a multifunctional artist studio/work space with movable panels to form different rooms when needed. These panels serve as versatile partitions, allowing artists to customise and reconfigure their workspace according to their tailored spatial needs or methods. Whether it’s creating separated private studios, open collaborative workshop spaces, or temporary exhibition galleries; our design provides the flexibility to accommodate a whole range of artistic practices.

We approached this concept thinking it would be the “most practical” and efficient way of spatial allocations, easy for the artists to adapt to themselves. Ironically, this piece sparked deeper conversations about the cyclic norm of artists giving spaces new life before having them taken away by regeneration (investment opportunities and affordability), the practicalities and habits of artists at work “with their stuff along one wall…where do they go if the wall moves?”, and the multifaceted world of costs and a need for change in existing business models.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:26
Reside* Artist Workshop Space

Throughout the day, as the students manned the stands in shifts to attend to curious members of the public, we also had the opportunity to mingle with local resident/collective artists. The workspace set up by Claire consisted of a simple tables, stools, a homely rug, and freshly made refreshments; where we all gathered to listen to artists working on their exhibition preparations, learned about the behind-the-scenes of the art world through newfound critical lenses, and participated in an ad-hoc mirror-drawing illustrative session instigated by Grace.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:28
“St Helens is tired…and desperately needs art.”

“The city council shouldn’t take down the market and build another one, which is such an waste, we could have used existing place, refine it and make it better.”

“It’s clear to see that the artists of St Helens are underrepresented and need this space. The city council should make more of an effort to listen to their needs and should aim to encourage more young artists in the area.”

“They like the intention to pay homage to the culture of the site while creating a new, more modern concept, since the development in town is not so sensitive.”

“I feel like the artist scene in St Helens needs a lot more development and care due to the lack of representation in that area. The lack of space is also a very crucial aspect because it doesn’t enable enough space to carry more artists even if they were.”

These were some of the thoughts we gathered from picking the brains of those who had opinions to share about the future of the space.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:28
Thank you to all who came and were involved - especially and invaluably Claire, Grace and Rebecca who opened up this opportunity and precious insight to work with the art scene of St Helen’s.

“This project helped me experience working on a team project and through group discussions I was able to communicate and develop ideas alongside others.” - Finbar

“I’ve learnt how to develop ideas collaboratively, in that we all created a balance between different concepts. I can appreciate the communication needed between the client and the designers, since we referenced their needs throughout the whole process to make sure we responded effectively.” - Letitia

“This project has helped me understand the importance of understanding what your client wants, also understanding their limitation and aspiration for that project will aid in developing ideas and sketches.” - Kiki

Our round-up at the pub celebrated the end of our rewarding MSA Live Project and blog posts, but the beginning of future collaborations with the artists involved and friendships made throughout our different year groups (dream team!) - who we hope we’ll see in studio, around Manchester, and wherever we all end up.
Posted 19 May 2023 17:32