In recent years, public art has started to appear in the strategies of cities, in the quest for a lively centre that would attract both residents and tourists alike. The structures for collaborating with artists in designing urban space are, however, in practice often either unfamiliar, or lacking completely, in an average design team. Art can appear on plans in some level, but might get eliminated in the implementation phase, because it then starts to seem like an expensive extra that should not actually be executed. If the organisation lacks the knowhow on how to actually use artists as part of design teams, art will understandably seem uninviting.
As part of my masters work from the School of Architecture, in Tampere University of Technology, I wrote a book, that aims at providing tools for just this kind of collaboration. In my work, I shortly explain some of the forms and reasons for art in public space in different times, as well as different uses of public space in general. Then I’ll go into the current processes and methods of working in both these fields - contemporary art, and contemporary design of urban spaces. Following the general overviews, I’ll present some of the most common problems faced today in art collaborations, and then go trough the process of successfully commissioning an artwork as part of a design process of urban space in Finland today. The process is presented step by step, concentrating on practical issues. The presented steps are based on the most recent guidelines published about the subject.
Comparing to this structure, I’ll present another model that I see as a possible option for the traditional collaboration between the design team and the artist. The aim of the model is to use the artists’ knowhow of materials - that highly differs from that of the designer - to generate new kinds of solutions to ordinary questions of form, structure, and space. The artist’s role in this process would not be to produce artworks, but could be compared to that of an acoustics designer, whose input will form an integral part of the general overall quality, without standing out of the whole. This second model is based on my own experiences in both fields, as well as on interviews of professionals practising either art and/or design of public space.
A broader understanding of the models of collaboration with artists provides the city an opportunity to provide higher quality public spaces to the citizens. The consulting engineering companies will find in it an opportunity to provide added value to their customers.