Partners: Shaftesbury Civic Society, North Dorset District Council
Designers: Simon Pirie and ZMMA architects
Designer-maker Simon Pirie and ZMMA architects have been asked by Shaftesbury Civic Society to research and develop proposals with the local community for a public space, The Commons, in Shaftesbury. The aims are to see how the unique heritage of this market town can be made more accessible to both visitors from outside and incomers from new settlements being created on its eastern edge. In particular the team have been asked to consider how traditional local materials could be brought up to date and used differently, addressing key sustainability agendas.
Both Adam Zombory-Moldovan from ZMMA and Pirie have strong links with the area, living and working in Dorset where they met whilst working on a project at Wimborne Mill. Their unique collaborative practice has been a key part of the process, utilising thinking on both the macro (architectural) and micro (furniture) scales, as well as bringing their profound understanding of local materials and craft techniques.
Part of design development has been consultation with local people through events on The Commons, the physical heart of Shaftesbury. Plans are to make this area a focal point and meeting place, providing seating, together with an adaptable performance, display and selling space that shows a deep understanding of the town; its heritage, geology, geography, its palette of materials and of course it’s people. Common Places is also a bold but sympathetic statement of pride and confidence in the future of Shaftesbury.
Included in the original ‘Common Places’ brief was the need to make links between the old town and new housing being built at East Shaftesbury, contributing to the start of a cohesive and linked strategy for public art in Shaftesbury. Whilst proposals for the town centre by ZMMA and Pirie have been delayed by controversy they have already been commissioned by the developers Persimmon to produce similar work for their 750 home development. It is hoped that by working across the town in this way these projects will provide literal and metaphorical links between the old and new areas of the town, fostering an increasing sense of civic pride in the locale.