New cultural middle for South London opens.


FormaHQ. Image courtesy Forma Arts & Media and Max Creasy

A new cultural center for South London FormaHQ was launched. On behalf of the Southwark Council in collaboration with the curator Aldo Rinaldi, the newly renovated modernist building was designed by Sanchez Benton Architects with the international artist Gabriel Kuri. The light-flooded building, located on Great Dover Street at the Mason Roundabout in Southwark, includes Forma’s new offices, five affordable artist studios, an international artist residence, an event space and space for a café and bookstore. The roof has been converted into a new public garden, which was further designed by acclaimed gardener Nigel Dunnett and furnished with Kuri furniture.

Peveril Gardens Image courtesy Forma Arts & Media and Laurie Storey

The garden is open to the public during office hours. Artist studios will open in August 2021. The move to its first public location marks a turning point in Forma’s 19-year history. Having operated as a successful contemporary art organization funded by Arts Council England, Forma can now contribute and integrate into the London cultural landscape by bringing emerging and established artists through studios, residencies and showcasing their work supports and activates the public garden through cultural activities events.

In addition, Forma will use the studio rental income to create a 24-month fellowship for an aspiring curator to develop a meaningful cultural engagement program for local residents, young people, and the surrounding district. The fellow will act as a key partner for Forma, connecting Forma’s international contemporary art programs with local neighbors in London. In 2020 Forma was awarded a 10-year lease to operate the new Southwark cultural center.

The site is adjacent to the Bricklayers Arms Roundabout, London SE1, part of the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area, where Southwark Council is running a redevelopment program that aims to create thousands of new homes and jobs. The new building, known as Peveril Gardens Studios, is a brick and concrete building from the 1960s that originally consisted of lockable garages on the ground floor and a private roof garden. Following a public consultation with 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 renovation of the site. Curator Aldo Rinaldi, who was entrusted with the 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 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund: Capital Kickstart, managed by Arts Council England, to outfit the ground floor rooms 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 patio furniture and the café & bookstore later in the year.

“Peveril Gardens was a real love affair bringing a team of artists, architects, gardeners and residents together to redesign this powerful urban space with client Southwark Council, who is well versed in the transformative power of culture Make place. Managed artistically from the start, it fits well that an art association is now enlivening the space with artist studios and an event program for the garden that the residents can enjoy. I am very grateful to Southwark Council and Rumi Bose for their vision in supporting this project and the GLA, which has co-funded it with New Homes Bonus, Arts Council England and Council and Cleaner Greener Safer. Gabriel Kuri, Nigel Dunnett Gärtnerei and Sanchez Benton have contributed with the many residents, who have also contributed their time and ideas, to make this urban space a beauty. “

Aldo Rinaldi, curator and co-commissioner of Forma HQ

Forma HQ Peveril Garden Studios 140 Great Dover Street London SE1 4GW

About Forma

Forma is a contemporary art organization, a charity and a National Portfolio Organization supported by Arts Council England, which promotes ideas and artists who address the social and political issues of our time. Through a discursive process, we promote artists’ creative vision and increase their ambition to develop collaborative projects that are career-defining and lead to great new opportunities around the world. We pride ourselves on being an organization that artists want to work with. We offer contract, fundraising and production expertise and as a non-gallery based organization we present projects in partnership with cultural institutions across the UK and internationally.

Artists they have worked 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 founded their office in 2017 to work on projects that have a social, poetic and architectural claim. Their approach is both pragmatic and philosophical, they work collaboratively and have conversations with clients, colleagues and consultants throughout the process. For each project, the team strives to understand the cultural context of the work and then develops an appropriate response. It is a method that celebrates and respects the hidden beauty and merit of what is present, what was, and what may be next. The team has designed and built architectural works on listed buildings, in nature reserves and on UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The studio is working on a wide range of projects and includes the recent conversion of a 1960s podium garden and garages into artist studios and an elevated public garden in Southwark, a contemporary art gallery in Vauxhall, a master plan and kiosk for Holyrood Street as Part of the Low Line and the conversion of the old Thorowgoods Furniture building into an arts center in Bermondsey. IG @sanchez_benton

About Gabriel Kuri

Gabriel Kuri (* 1970, Mexico) lives and works in Brussels. As a bridge between fabricated and found objects, Kuri’s sculptures and installations address systematization, consumption and the porous boundary between functionality and formal attraction. Alternating between floor sculptures and wall works, Kuri’s practice shows the complex relationships between the innate material properties of things – their sheen, their softness, their weight or their color – and their meaning in the “real world” and represents an uncertain interplay between the abstract and the symbolic her potential of its materials and their everyday origins and uses, which often raises questions related to broader sociocultural 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 for innovative approaches to plant design. He is a planter, designer and pioneer of the new ecological approach to planting gardens and public spaces. His work revolves around integrating ecology and horticulture to achieve low input, high impact landscapes that are dynamic, diverse and in tune with nature. Selected projects include the Queen Elizabeth London Olympic Park, the Barbican Center, London and Sheffield Gray to Green. He is the author and co-author of 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 landscaped landscape (Timber Press 2007); Green roofs and living walls (Timber Press 2003); and The Dynamic Landscape: Design, Ecology, and Management of Urban Naturalistic Plants (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 Ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society. IG @ nigel.dunnett

About Aldo Rinaldi

Aldo Rinaldi is a London-based curator and producer who has been working independently since 2017, prior to running the citywide arts program for Bristol ‘Art and the Public Realm Bristol’. Before working in Bristol, he developed projects with a contract agency in Cardiff and, among other things, realized the first permanent public work of art by Swiss artist Felice Varini. Prior to working in Wales, Aldo was Associate Director of Laurent Delaye Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Savile Row, where he developed the exhibition program with artists such as Grayson Perry, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Andrew Lewis, Chad McCail and many others. Past projects include new work 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 (Great Britain), Oscar Tuazon (USA), Richard Long (Great Britain) and Turner Prize Winner Assemble as well as Roger Hiorns with the Stirling Prize winners Witherford Watson Mann. IG @ aldo_rinaldi72