For one day only the Ambassador House forecourt was transformed in to a stylish music venue as part of the launch of a project to re-greenerate the disused concrete space.
It was was power washed, screened off from the busy road with a stage and marquee built as it was taken over for the press launch of American clothing giant Timberland’s Nature Needs Heroes campaign.
The headline act was Croydon rapper Loyle Carner who has joined forces with Timberland and the London National Park City Foundation to see urban spaces like the Ambassador House forecourt transformed in to green community hubs.
During the day, down to earth Mercury Prize-nominated Loyle, 25, who is the ambassador for the project mixed with the community who were invited to take part in planting workshops and hear about new proposals for the forecourt.
In the evening at an invite only press launch Loyle who grew up in the borough, said the partnership was an opportunity to give back to the place that raised him and also gave a platform to other talented local artists like the Thornton Heath collective See Our Seven that brings together vocal, dance and creative talents of 7 local artists and performers including:
Loyle said: “What we’ve done right now is begun to change Thornton Heath. When I was younger I used to have to go all the way from here to central London to do anything, so thank you very much for coming down here and supporting my local community.
“It’s wicked. This is one of the rare brand partnership things that you see where you’re actually able to create an actual change and activate a change. We spent a whole day with people from my local community talking about what they want to see. I think this is actually quite important.”
During the day landscape architects Urban Growth spoke to residents about the new proposals for the space.
The Chronicle understands that Timberland are putting in a further £75,000 in to the project and are working with Urban Growth, who manage and maintain public spaces like Pop Brixton and Brixton Orchard, to further develop the design including building large planters which should be installed by March.
Last November the council ran a £15,000 competition to transform the forecourt in to Thornton Heath Square which was won by architects collective Tomos Design, Compendium and Studio Yu.
Ideas were formulated at a series of listening stations in Thornton Heath which the architects turned in to a design to transform the redundant space with art work, planting, new lighting and storage space for future events. The project was meant to have been completed in time to reactivate the forecourt for summer but there wasn’t enough funds to fulfil the complete redesign.
The initial pot of £75,000 for the project has so far resulted in an unfinished tiered bus stop garden covered in weeds which has cost £40,000 and a mural designed by local artist Vân Dang in conjunction with local young people.
The forecourt has been used for a series of Get Active summer programme organised by the council in conjunction with leisure partner Better and sponsored by the London Mayor, but there has been limited take up.
The relaunched market held in September which was outsourced by the council to two operators also faced criticism particularly over the lack of stalls.
*London National Park City, a movement to make the capital “greener, healthier and wilder”, and Timberland also announced the start of a three-month search for 50 volunteer London National Park City Rangers to kick-start new urban greening projects like the Ambassador House forecourt across the capital.