Our design for the ‘Swansea Fitted’ Civic Stage aims to activate and animate the public realm of Museum Green in Swansea, Wales and incorporates elements of the city’s industrial heritage. It is one of a series of artworks commissioned for the Swansea Boulevard and Waterfront Connections Public Art Programme.
We designed the ‘Swansea Fitted’ Civic Stage as a flexible platform consisting of three interconnected sections: a façade, a stage and a catwalk, which users can adapt for an endless variety of public programmes. It opens up to the green, inviting activities and events including musical performances, fashion shows, pop-up shops and exchanges. Users can also reconfigure the structure to allow local initiatives and micro-enterprises to occupy a prime urban location usually reserved for large chains and corporations.
Our design draws heavily from the area’s history as a centre for international trade. In the 19th century, Swansea was a major hub of copper smelting and production, and became known as ‘Copperopolis’, so we echoed the distinctive trunking in the hulls of copper barque ships in the sloping sides of the Civic Stage. A large proportion of the copper ore came from Valparaiso in Chile – so much so, that in the mid-19th century it was described as a ‘suburb of Swansea’! To pay tribute to this historic maritime trading relationship, we transplanted building fragments from Valparaiso’s townscape in the façade of the Civic Stage. Around the same period, local copper barons would mint their own coins as a way of paying their workforce. Honouring this early form of local currency, the Civic Stage surfaces are richly embellished with coins, each one featuring a unique design contributed by members of local community groups. Depicting local history and stories of the city that only residents could tell, these coins allow the Civic Stage to boast a tangible and permanent connection with the people of Swansea.
Clad in stainless steel sheeting and painted to give a uniformly bright appearance against the surrounding Georgian architecture, the construction techniques also harked back to the area’s boat- and ship-building heritage. The Civic Stage was entirely manufactured in Wales, using local skills and expertise.
“Throughout the design, fabrication and implementation phases, Aberrant showed an understanding of the wider aims and objectives of the Client and worked with the Project Team to ensure that the artwork helped to achieve these. They also took into account the various constraints and considerations that the Council and its partners and funders (including the Wales European Funding Office as part of the Waterfront City regeneration programme, the Arts Council for Wales and private developers) must operate under. Aberrant’s innovative and people-centred approach has ensured that the final artwork meets and exceeds the original brief, has engendered public and stakeholder buy-in, will be delivered on time and within budget and complements Swansea’s cityscape. Therefore, Addo have no hesitation in recommending Aberrant Architecture.”
Sarah Pace, Co-Director, Addo, a creative arts consultancy
City and County of Swansea
Museum Green, Swansea