The FOLKESTONOMY proposal in context

The Folkestone Triennial (FT) describes itself as an ambitious and innovative art project, and encourages invited artists to engage with the fabric of the city in order to produce temporary and permanent art projects. Amongst other aims, the FT wants to engage residents and visitors and to enrich the existing reality through new context related art projects.

FT is sited/commissioned within the wider context of Folkestone’s current regeneration plans and process. It is stated very clearly that the regeneration plans have creativity and the arts at its heard, and the arts are declared a key strategic instrument. Aims are to improve the public realm, to raise of educational attainment, to support employment growth and economic development, to tackle cause of social deprivation and to develop community identity.
The ethos of the culture lead regeneration is “to build from ground level” (Roger de Haan) and to be different from other culturally lead regeneration projects, which too often drive the arts out of regenerated areas, or sideline them once the large scale building projects move in.

The Making of Space:
Urban regeneration deals with a variety of spaces and spatial aspects, which is already well reflected in Folkestone’s current situation. On the one end of the spectrum is e.g. the new masterplan for the seafront by Foster and Partners that deals with the large scale context and the massing of spaces and programmes; on the other end are medium and small scale initiatives that re-generate existing spaces through cultural programmes, e.g. the Creative Foundation with its Creative Quarter initiative, or Strange Cargo who have produced numerous participatory public art projects for the town. The FT as a medium and possible long-term initiative will become a new producer of cultural, and probably physical space for Folkestone.

All those spaces and spatial proposals need to be acknowledged in their coexistence, and as a current debate within Urban Planning suggests, formal Masterplanning and Everyday Urbanism need to be considered equally when it comes to the making and shaping of new spaces. Transformation takes place long-term and large-scale, but it also happens on an everyday basis in conversations, small actions and changing perceptions.

We’re particularly interested in the social, cultural and physical space that is generated by cultural initiatives such as the FT and the meaning of this space within a regeneration context and the hierarchy of space.

How to connect ephemeral cultural space to urban design and masterplanning?

The initial proposal three liner

The proposed project sets out to do following:

The recording, visualisation and instrumentalisation of FST as a socio-spatial construct within the context of Folkestone’s culture-lead regeneration.

A cultural space mapping project.

The proposal positions itself within the fields of
Art – Architecture
Public Art – Urban Regeneration
Culture-lead Regeneration– Urban Masterplanning
Cultural Programme – Built Space
Socio-spatial Networks – Physical Structures


Current master plan proposals

…. and the images produced alongside.

Roger de Haan, current owner of Folkestone harbour, has commissioned Foster and Partners to produce a masterplan for the harbour area.

The masterplan is produced and represented within the very conventions of its profession,
with images and models of a better looking and better working future environment.
We all know that masterplans of that scale don't get implemented necessarily, and they're often
used as a political tool to kick start a discussion about change and.

The images produced are strong in the sense that they propose a possible reality by almost erasing the existent. The images and documents don't show a process of change and they certainly don't show possibilities for a collective and participatory transformation of Folkestone that starts with the existent. The images focus on future real estate and physical development as a main objective.

FOLKESTONOMY is an attempt to produce new images based on the existing, which show different social and spatial aspects of Folkestone, and to counterpose and complement the master plan images.

Extracts from our proposal:

The images produced as part of a regeneration process are key to how visions are shaped and expectations answered. There is a real need to produce pictures in order to illustrate ideas and objectives, but there is also an understanding amongst the professionals involved, that images often have a provisional role and meaning and will change throughout the process. However the general public often reads first illustrations of visions as “the design”, and due to a lack of understanding a highly complex commission/design/implementation process, are disappointed if final outcomes are not delivered as suggested in the masterplan.

Regeneration is fluid, it deals with changing relationships, politics and opportunities. The spaces involved in, and addressed by regeneration don’t change overnight, but evolve slowly, as does the image that goes with those spaces.
If regeneration is bottom-up, the making of the new starts from within the existing, and is a slow transformative process, rather than an abrupt replacement of the present by the new.
Process and slow transformation are much more difficult to represent than a visionary image, but are equally important in regards to understanding the process, and the potential of various forces and elements within it.

First site visit

The whole public works team departed on a rainy Sunday for a site visit to Folkestone.
Quick first impressions:
- the town seemed far less "deprived" than described to us earlier, and we liked what we saw
- the reasons for the regeneration of the sea front is obvious and it would be interesting to think the less obvious
- no good fish and chips in easy reach - or at least we didn t find it.


Andreas Schlieker, who we met during the British Art Show 06, has invited us to submit a proposal for the first Folkestone Triennial.
It's an open brief invitation, which is great! Thank you!

Within the context of public art and regeneration the idea of an "open brief" might be the closest we get to a "non plan" scenario, where experiment is possible and outcomes are by nature unpredictable.

In 1969 the UK based architects Cedric Price, Paul Barker, Peter Hall and Reyner Banham demanded a Non-Plan: an experiment for freedom. It was an anti-planning polemic, which suggested carrying out a Non-Plan test in four districts in the English countryside, where architecture and forms of living could be developed without the controlling forces of planning rules. “ Our essential point was that you should think always very hard before telling other people how they ought to live.”

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a public works project. site design and build by dorian