Cricklewood, a community in North West London, has no town hall, no library, no town square, not even a single bench. Last month, a mobile town square on wheels finally changed this and gave the town the public space they deserved.
Curated by London-based civic ideas agency Spacemakers and designed by Studio Kieren Jones the Cricklewood Town Square comes to life in the shape of a miniature clock tower, which is attached to the back of a bicycle. Whenever it stops it transforms empty spaces into vibrant community events.
In a playful, yet effective way the Spacemakers indirectly tried to find out the answer to one question: If Cricklewood had a town square, what would happen there? As a result residents of the Cricklewood community were able to enjoy the mobile town square at various locations, for instance on the rooftop of a car park, and could make use of this intervention for a diversified number of events. It showed that if Crickelwood actually had a town square the people would come to see film screenings, dog shows, chess championchips, tea dances, exhibitions, debates and take part in a DIY library or a DIY sign-making workshop. All of these events were successfully held, of which the latter was also an initiative to create the graphics and signage of the Cricklewood Town Square together with Studio Hato and the community.
When entirely spread out the Cricklewood Town Square measures about 10 square meters. The clock tower with faux-brick cladding, which was built in reference to the Smiths clock factory which used to reside in Cricklewood but was sold for scrap during the war, raises awareness about the town’s rich history. The tower structure holds all the equipment needed for a temporary public space, ranging from benches, stools, tables over games and umbrellas. All equipment was produced by local manufacturers. Finally, wayfinding signs that indicate the exact location of the mobile town square are also included in the package.
The Cricklewood Town Square aims to give a sense of community back to its people, a feature that is too often overlooked – as the case of Cricklewood strikingly shows – and unfortunately barely considered a necessity. As part of a wider series of interventions across Cricklewood, led by Gort Scott Architects, the project functions as a starting point for conversations within the residential area and shows the possibilities even in these scraps of land. Since the Cricklewood Town Square is a mobile and, thus, temporary, device this project was brought to life as a forerunner for a more permanent public space, though, the structure will enjoy a long-term stay in Cricklewood. In addition, the Cricklewood Town Square will be on display at the RIBA Forgotten Spaces exhibition at Somerset House until 10 November.