Locals celebrated the new design at a community festival
The transformation of the Thessaly Road railway bridge by visual artist Yinka Ilori is complete and residents have celebrated the new design at a recent ‘Happy Streets’ community festival.
The ‘Happy Street’ project is the outcome of a council design competition in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture, as part of a package of work to improve the public realm around Thessaly Road in Nine Elms.
Yinka Ilori’s Happy Street is the artist’s first public realm commission. It's an installation that floods the previously dank underpass with colour and light. The walls of the underpass and the bridge to either side are clad with 56 richly patterned vitreous enamel panels using 16 different colours, forming a low-cost, durable and cheerful surface. At night the underpass is illuminated, enhancing the structure as a new local landmark and giving users a greater sense of safety, as well as pleasure, as they pass through.
In creating the design, Ilorisought to encourage users of the underpass to become more aware of the environment around them – for instance in the bright colours that reference the spectacular Thames sunsets nearby, as well as using colour to help improve feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Together with a team at Wandsworth Council, Yinka Ilori has worked closely during the development of the project with local residents and nearby St George’s C of E Primary School.
Yinka said: “I am really honoured and blessed to have my first public realm project installed in Nine Elms, Battersea! The most important part of the project was talking to the community, especially the young children and seeing the smiles on their faces when they walk under the bridge has been magical. I just hope this bridge continues to bring happiness to everyone who walks under Happy Street and inspires the next generation of young artists because they are the future.”
Tamsie Thomson, director of the London Festival of Architecture, said: “We’re so proud to have been part of the Happy Street project: we set out to champion London’s amazing design talent, create something that would make a difference to people’s lives and improve London’s public realm. So thanks to an amazing partnership with Yinka Ilori and Wandsworth Council it’s mission accomplished, and a fantastic legacy for the London Festival of Architecture 2019 season.”
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council added: "I am delighted that this Nine Elms rail bridge has been so successfully transformed into a colourful gateway – together with Yinka Ilori we listened to community concerns and worked closely with local residents and St George's school to ensure we delivered a design that they would be happy living next to.
"This was a unique project to bring art and transport infrastructure together and has been a huge achievement to get finished just one year after the design competition, thanks to close working with our local partners, Network Rail and London Festival of Architecture.
"I hope that what we see here gives fresh inspiration to re-imagine London's built environment and consider incorporating art into other structures around us."
Local residents and visitors gave the bridge a thumbs up on Saturday 13 July as they followed a marching band and giant puppet underneath the colourful artwork. Over 1,800 people joined in with free activities, workshops, live outdoor performances and music throughout the happiness-themed festival at venues on and around Thessaly Road.
About Yinka Ilori
Yinka Ilori is a London-based artist whose work spans the divisions between art and design, blending European and African traditions with contemporary design while sparking a conversation about social norms and consumer culture. The Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery - a collaboration between Yinka and Pricegore – has been a highlight of the London Festival of Architecture 2019 season and has met with popular and critical acclaim.
July 22, 2019