A new cultural hub for South London FormaHQ has launched Commissioned by Southwark Council in collaboration with curator Aldo Rinaldi, the newly refurbished modernist building was designed by Sanchez Benton Architects with international artist Gabriel Kuri. The light-filled structure, situated on Great Dover Street by Bricklayer’s roundabout in Southwark, includes Forma’s new offices, five affordable artist studios, a residency space for visiting international artists, an event space and room for a café and bookshop. The rooftop was converted into a new public garden further designed by celebrated horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett and fitted out with furniture designed by Kuri.
The garden is open to the public during office hours Artist studios will launch in August 2021. The move to its first public-facing site marks a turning point in Forma’s 19-year history. Having operated as a successful contemporary art organisation funded by Arts Council England, Forma will now be able to contribute and integrate into London’s cultural landscape by supporting emerging and established artists through studios, residencies and opportunities to present their work and activating the public garden through cultural events.
In addition, Forma will utilise the studio rental income to create a 24-month Fellowship for an emerging Curator to develop a meaningful cultural engagement programme for local residents, young people and the surrounding borough. The Fellow will act as a key partner for Forma, linking Forma’s international contemporary art programmes with local neighbours in London. In 2020 Forma was awarded a 10-year lease to operate the new cultural hub in Southwark.
The site is adjacent to Bricklayers Arms Roundabout, London SE1, part of the Old Kent Road opportunity area where Southwark Council is leading a regeneration programme set to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs. The new building, known as Peveril Gardens Studios, is a 1960s brick and concrete structure that was originally made up of lockable garages on the ground floor and a private roof garden. Following a public consultation with the residents of the Peveril Estate, Southwark Council worked with the Mayor of London to raise funds, including a grant from the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund, to initiate a culturally driven regeneration of the site. Curator Aldo Rinaldi, who was commissioned to provide artistic direction, oversaw the recruitment of Sanchez Benton Architects and the selection of Gabriel Kuri, Nigel Dunnett and Forma.
Forma received £100,000 from Arts Council England’s Small Capital Grants fund. It also received £18,000 in the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund: Capital Kickstart administered by Arts Council England to fit out the ground floor spaces in line with its ambitions to make the space as accessible and environmentally sustainable as possible. The affordable artist studios will open in August 2021, followed by the bespoke garden furniture and the café & bookshop later in the year.
“Peveril Garden’s has been a real labour of love, which has brought together a team of artists, architects, horticulturalists and residents together to re-imagine this powerful urban space, with client Southwark Council, who are well versed in the transformative power of culture in place making. Artist led from the start it is fitting that an arts charity now occupies and breaths life into the space with artists studios and events programme for the garden that residents can enjoy. I’m hugely grateful to Southwark Council and Rumi Bose, for their vision in supporting this project, and the GLA who helped fund it along with the New Homes Bonus, Arts Council England, and the Council and Cleaner Greener Safer. Gabriel Kuri, Nigel Dunnett horticulturalist and Sanchez Benton have helped to fashion this urban space into a thing of beauty with the many residents who also gave their time and ideas.“Aldo Rinaldi, Curator and Co-commissioner of Forma HQ
Forma HQ Peveril Garden Studios 140 Great Dover Street London SE1 4GW
Forma is a contemporary art organisation, charity and National Portfolio Organisation, supported by the Arts Council England, that champions ideas and artists who address the social and political questions of our times. Through a discursive process, we nurture artists’ creative vision and grow their ambition in order to develop collaborative projects that are career-defining and lead to new major opportunities around the world. We pride ourselves in being an organisation that artists want to work with. We offer commissioning, fundraising and production expertise, and as a non-gallery-based organisation, we present projects in partnership with cultural institutions across the UK and internationally.
Artists they have collaborated with include Alberta Whittle, Cerith Wyn Evans, Cécile B Evans, Bill Morrison and Jóhann Jóhannsson, Amartey Golding, Broomberg and Chanarin, Sophie Hoyle, Benedict Drew, Jane and Louise Wilson, Mark Boulos and Himali Singh Soin.
About Sanchez Benton Architects
Carlos Sanchez and Tom Benton met while working at 6a architects and established their practice in 2017 to work on projects that have a social, poetic and architectural ambition. Their approach is both pragmatic and philosophical, working collaboratively and continuing conversations with clients, colleagues and consultants throughout the process. With every project, the team sets out to understand the cultural setting of the work and then develops an appropriate response. It is a method that celebrates and respects the latent beauty and merit in what is present, what has been, and what could come next. The team has designed and built works of architecture on listed buildings, in Conservation Areas, and at UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The studio works across a broad mix of projects and includes the recent conversion of a 1960’s podium garden and garages into artist studios and a raised public garden in Southwark, a contemporary art gallery in Vauxhall, a masterplan and kiosk for Holyrood street as part of the Low Line, and the conversion of the old Thorowgoods Furniture building into an Arts Centre in Bermondsey. Sanchezbenton.co.uk IG @sanchez_benton
About Gabriel Kuri
Gabriel Kuri (born 1970, Mexico) lives and works in Brussels. Bridging fabricated and found objects, Kuri’s sculptures and installations address themes of systemisation, consumption, and the porous border between functionality and formal allure. Alternating between floor-based sculptures and wall works, Kuri’s practice evinces the complex relationships between the innate material properties of things – their sheen, softness, weight or colour – and their ‘real world’ meanings, establishing an uncertain interplay between the abstract or symbolic potential of his materials and their everyday origins and uses, often raising questions concerned with broader socio-cultural systems of hierarchy and value-construction.
About Nigel Dunnett
Nigel Dunnett is Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield, and is one of the world’s leading voices on innovative approaches to planting design. He is a plantsman, designer and pioneer of the new ecological approach to planting gardens and public spaces. His work revolves around the integration of ecology and horticulture to achieve low-input, high-impact landscapes that are dynamic, diverse, and tuned to nature. Select projects include the Queen Elizabeth London Olympic Park, The Barbican Centre, London and Sheffield Grey to Green. He has authored and co-authored various publications including, The Essential Guide to Naturalistic Planting and Design and Nigel Dunnett on Planting (both Filbert Press 2019); Rain Gardens: sustainable management of rainwater in the designed Landscape (Timber Press 2007); Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls (Timber Press 2003); and The Dynamic Landscape: design, ecology and management of urban naturalistic planting (Taylor & Francis 2004). In 2018 he won the Landscape Institute Award for Planting Design, Public Horticulture and Strategic Ecology, and the Landscape Institute Fellows Prize for Most Outstanding Project, both for The Barbican, London. In 2016 he was appointed as an Ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society. www.nigeldunnett.com IG @nigel.dunnett
About Aldo Rinaldi
Aldo Rinaldi is a London-based curator and producer and has worked independently since 2017, prior to which he oversaw the city wide art programme for Bristol ‘Art and the Public Realm Bristol’. Before working in Bristol he developed projects with a commissioning agency in Cardiff, realizing amongst other things, the first permanent public artwork by Swiss artist Felice Varini. Prior to working in Wales, Aldo was the assistant director of Laurent Delaye Gallery a contemporary art gallery in Savile Row, where he developed the exhibitions programme with artists including Grayson Perry, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Andrew Lewis, Chad McCail and many others. Past projects include new works with Nils Norman (UK), Simon & Tom Bloor (UK), Mark Titchner (UK), N55 (Denmark), MUF architecture/art (UK), Maria Thereza Alves (Brazil), Tue Greenfort (Denmark), Sabine Hornig (Germany) Heather and Ivan Morison (UK), Oscar Tuazon (USA), Richard Long (UK) and Turner Prize winners Assemble, and Roger Hiorns with Stirling Prize winning architects Witherford Watson Mann. IG @aldo_rinaldi72