• Joanna Whittle

Brownfield Research Centre

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

I am showing two small paintings as part of AirSpace gallery's Brownfield Research Centre project. Its a really interesting project focusing on Brownfield sites- terrains which my paintings often stray in to.





THE BROWNFIELD RESEARCH CENTRE

EXHIBITION, RESIDENCIES 15th June to 22nd July, 2018

AirSpace Gallery transforms into the Brownfield Research Centre, to investigate the current state of and potential future for the city's open brownfield spaces.

Brownfield - The Definitions

Official Definition

brownfield ˈbraʊnfiːld/ adjective British adjective: brownfield; adjective: brown-field 1. vacant or derelict land or property, usually industrial in nature. 2. denoting or relating to urban sites for potential building development that have had previous development on them, as opposed to greenfield land, which has never been built upon. 3. in the United Kingdom, often conflated with the technical term 'previously developed land' (PDL). PDL was originally defined in planning policy for housing development in England and Wales, and was carefully distinguished in such policy from 'brownfield', which was undefined but considered to be different. The two terms ‘brownfield” and “previous developed land” are now used interchangeably.

AirSpace Gallery Definition

brownfield ˈbraʊnfiːld/ adjective British adjective: brownfield; adjective: brown-field 1. vacant or derelict land which, through wilful human neglect, and barricading, has been successfully reclaimed by nature, developing thriving and important natural ecosystems, and acting as a model for future urban land use.

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The Brownfield Research Centre

It is our contention at AirSpace that the future for provincial city centres, is not going to be based around traditional retail, and so we need to find new sustainable purposes for our urban zones. Like many other former industrial cities, and exacerbated by a failed housing renewal scheme, Stoke-on-Trent has physically emptied out over the last two decades, as industrial buildings and former residences have been demolished. Invariably the resulting land has been cordoned off – with Heras or Pallisade fencing, allowing Nature to reclaim the land.

For many, these areas are ugly, gaining a reputation as eyesores, and dens of iniquity, used if anything by the city’s homeless or for nefarious purposes. However, there is an alternate view. They can be seen as thriving natural ecosystems, home to a series of itinerant native plants, such as Coltsfoot, Buddleia, Tansy and Rosebay. More than that, we believe this successful natural reclamation can point the way to a new future for our city. What if – at least in their interim, we managed these spaces as City Centre Parkland, offering these native species the chance to thrive and cultivate, and simultaneously offering visitors to our city the chance to do the same.

Stoke-on-Trent has a history of successfully Greening former toxic land, as Hanley Forest Park and half of the 1986 Garden Festival Site, 20 years on, are now successful rural idylls in the heart of our city, turning the toxicity of their former occupants – Steel and Coal mining, into areas of Local Beauty. This is a model which we can learn from and repeat right in the centre of our city centres.

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Joanna Whittle 2020