Menai Science Park (M-SParc) is to be located at Cefn Du farm, off Junction 7 of the A55, Gaerwen on the Isle of Anglesey and is due to open in early 2018. The first phase is to provide a flagship building which is 5,000 square metres of office, lab and workshop space together with business support, conference facilities, and an “Open Innovation Space” providing flexible and informal working and café space. Bangor University commissioned Chris Jones Regeneration, Simon Fenoulhet and Howard Bowcott in the summer of 2015 to develop an Artworks Strategy, with science based companies realising the importance of creating “creative cathedrals” that provide the space to nurture creative thinking, with art seen as part of a building’s DNA. M-SParc also saw the role of art to engage with its community, to inspire young people and to clearly demonstrate that Menai Science Park project can lead to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The six-month commission spent initial time understanding the position of the wider M-SParc project and how the artwork could relate to opportunities and design thinking. Engagement at Sioe Môn helped raise awareness of M-SParc and artwork opportunities and an introductory design team workshop with Faulkner Browns architects was held to introduce the artwork commission which also included visits to educational and science park buildings located in Newcastle City Centre. The final stages of the process focussed on the development of artwork ideas and concepts which were influenced by the initial report findings. This has involved the development of concepts and ideas for the building, landscape and community which were shared with the wider design team in relation to the planning application package for phase 1 of the works to Menai Science Park.
This artistic strategy provides a clear direction for arts as part of the initial phase one development of M-SParc and beyond. Artwork opportunities are found within four broad themes of i) A Dynamic Home to All ii) A Sense of Place iii) Connected and Energising and iv) Establishing and Promoting M-SParc’s Ethos. Artwork proposals respond to values of openness, with permeability and discovery within the parkland promoted through community linkages, paths and opportunities to explore and dwell such as the seating proposals. Physical artwork has been informed by the geology and landscape of Anglesey, whilst process-based artwork tells the story of the site through farming, former wells and water. Artwork has also considered the use of recycled materials and low energy applications throughout.
As one moves from the parkland setting into the Open Innovation Centre, artwork adds to the announcement and dynamism of the building, a building that is a home to all, where innovative science and technology-focused businesses can flourish. The artworks need to work with the building and its function as well as being strong works in their own right. Inside the building, there is more scope to employ modern materials and technologies to match the design and purpose of the building. In addition to permanent works, we have identified ideas for projects that allow artists to contribute to the future life of MSParc through art and science collaborations, residencies and temporary works.