Painted pedestrian signals hide a chic new form of public art

Written by Cécile Carreira, CNN A new series of life-sized wooden structures have been erected at South London St James Church, in order to give pedestrians more privacy. Constructed by artist and theatre director…

Painted pedestrian signals hide a chic new form of public art

Written by Cécile Carreira, CNN

A new series of life-sized wooden structures have been erected at South London St James Church, in order to give pedestrians more privacy.

Constructed by artist and theatre director Iain Glennie and his wife Victoria Melis, the wooden structures — which are made from timber salvaged from their storm-damaged property — conceal the painted pedestrian signals that are in line with the church’s interior patterns.

The pair previously used the same materials to create birdhouses and other architectural elements for Hampstead Heath and Studio One Zero in the Chelsea neighborhood of London.

“You have to create something that doesn’t stand out, that fits into the architecture,” Melis told CNN. “We wanted to use the inherent freedom and movement of the post-industrial work to construct a wall and then frame it with the church’s base. We are using the construction process as a way of creating a shape.”

Inspired by architecture in Japan

The proposal was inspired by works of art and architecture in the Japanese Yamagata design district. Melis observed how the church’s ornate, structural design contrasts with the minimalist, utilitarian interior.

As a result, she and Glennie constructed wooden structures that block human contact with the required yellow pedestrian signals.

“When it’s painted, the contact angle creates a strong connection between you and the sidewalk,” Melis said. “You don’t want to be in direct contact with the body of the next person crossing the road. We are introducing a quiet atmosphere into the atmosphere inside.”

The first wooden planks were laid at the end of March and Melis expects the structures to stay in place for a couple of months. She hopes the project will encourage visitors to linger over their lunch break.

This series of wooden structures hides the painted pedestrian signals. Credit: Iain Glennie and Victoria Melis/via kopeckstudio.com

“We are looking at the hope that people will still take the time to stop and explore the architecture or the church,” Melis said. “It may take people longer, but I think they will still end up staying for a second lunch.”

A compact, easily viewable space

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