Pier Square Art Commission Brief


London Borough of Bexley wish to engage a creative practitioner or designer to develop creative public realm or series of artworks for Erith Pier Square. The art will enhance the public space and benefit the local community. The project seeks to enhance placemaking in Erith as part of the wider regeneration plans and strengthen community engagement and investment.

The Council has worked closely with Architects BDP on a new design for Pier Square, to create an inclusive public area that provides a space for leisure and play. To enhance this new public space, we are calling on creative practitioners and/or artists to make an addition to the project that represents Erith’s heritage and gives excitement for the future, whilst acknowledging the river scene and its changing tides.

The Council has also worked alongside architectural students studying at London Met. S Unit 15 (the Cass) who independently studied Erith’s history and it’s potential regeneration in 2018, showcasing their studies at the Old Library in 2019. The study produced by the Unit has helped positive dialogue among stakeholders and forms background information for this creative opportunity.  For more information on their study, please refer to the Appendix to view ‘The Cass supporting research and evidence’ and ‘Surfaces and Textures’.

The creative practitioner will be given a commission to develop their ideas and for their time and materials to fabricate and install, working to a defined budget for the build cost. The installation costs will be part of the commission and will be undertaken preferably by the artist, but it is possible that Bexley Council’s term contractor may undertake the works if deemed more appropriate by the Council. Artist’s contract and payment will be administered by LB Bexley.

All designs and works are subject to approvals and planning consent.

Project Site:

Erith Pier Square
Erith Town Centre


  • Design and production budget for commission will be provided by LBB. The total allocated budget for the commission is up to £15,000 – this includes artist fee, production and installation costs. Please note, project related marketing and comms will be undertaken by LBB and financed The final budget will be agreed upon appointment and will be determined by all parties.
  • For all enquires please contact: Luisa Baker, Senior Project Manager, Erith Regeneration Team 0203 045 3524
  • A 5-week tender period will be allowed for artist submissions, the tender period commences Monday 17th February and closes Sunday 26 April at 11:59pm
  • Applicants will be shortlisted to 3 to 4 submissions based on the quality assessment scores (see below). Shortlisted applicants will be asked to further develop proposals and present their work to the selection panel.
  • Contract duration: The winning applicant will be appointed in April, allowing approximately 4 months for design development and sign off with installation in the ground expected autumn We would expect artists to fabricate and if needed store the finished art work off site until installation.
  • Artist(s) will be appointed by project panel comprising representatives from LB Bexley, BDP and Architecture Masters students from London Metropolitan University (Unit 15 CASS)
  • Project Client is the Council
  • Entry method for participants will be digital or paper copies. paper copies to be sent to:

Erith Regeneration Team
London Borough of Bexley
Civic Offices
2 Watling street

  • Digital entries can be sent to erith.art@bexley.gov.uk
  • Please note regarding digital files : To avoid transfer/quality problems please use PDF files with a max 300 dpi resolution and the size of the file shall be a maximum size of 20 MB. Larger files will not be accepted. It is the responsibility of the authors/teams to guarantee that the final images and files are in the size and resolution adequate to their reading.
  • Entries will be judged anonymously. There must be no identifying information (that is, information that identifies individuals, organisations, schools, groups, or firms associated with the entry) on the images, in the image file names, or in the accompanying statement, or text.


Pier Square is a key public realm site in Erith, situated by the entrance to the Pier and near the Thames and local walking and cycling routes. It was originally constructed as public open space when the Morrisons development was built in the mid-90s. The space was designed to offer a nautically themed jetty forecourt. However, over time, the space has become tired and underused. The original design missed opportunities to better connect with the surrounding river context. The trees are in poor condition and planted too closely. The site lacks a distinctive destination point for the community yet has the potential to offer so much more.

Through the public realm project to improve the area, the design team are proposing to absorb the adjacent car park and reconfigure the road layout to increase the boundary of the scheme. The current grounding conditions are cluttered and do not have a distinguishable purpose, therefore the site will benefit from new surfacing and levels which enhance views across the river. The square will be flexibly zoned to encourage various uses. New features will be introduced such as raised walkways and seating, a small basketball area, new trees and rain gardens as well as moveable lighting. The site will be designed to support a wide range of community events and activities, providing a more welcoming entrance to the Pier. Construction is due to begin in late May 2020 and complete mid-September 2020.

Drawing showing existing site

Fig 1 – Existing site

Sketch showing proposed changes to Pier Square

Fig 2. New plans for Pier Square

As a lot of Erith’s riverside was previously dominated by industry, this has created a disconnection to the river. There is a foot and cycle path along the riverside that goes all the way to Greenwich. This educational route shows some of Erith’s existing and redundant industry. There are still many productive industrial sites of varying sizes, housing small independent businesses to large corporations. Previous to Erith’s Industrial history, it was a pleasure town and holiday destination due to its easy accessibility from London by boat. It was a place for wealthy holiday-goers escaping the crowded streets of London in the 1800s. The town’s change from pleasure town to Industrial site was due to the introduction of the Crossness Sewage plant in 1865. Due to unpleasant smells, the pleasure town era ended for Erith and the town became dominated by industry.

The pier in Erith is one of the longest structures on Thames. Originally built in 1842, the wooden pier was 133m in length. A hotel sat next to the pier, and soon Erith opened its pleasure gardens in 1845 which hosted all types of entertainment from walks, a bowling green, conservatory, maze, an archery field and more for the holidaymakers visiting the town.

In 1865 the hotel, pier and gardens were sold as industry took over Erith. The pier being used for ships loading and unloading cargoes such as coal, seeds for local oil mills and newsprint for fleet street.

To accommodate larger cargo, the pier was rebuilt out of concrete in the 1950s creating a structure the length of 360 metres that stands there today. As industry became more reliant on road travel rather than river, the pier’s original use was abandoned and became a public amenity.

Now owned and maintained by Morrison’s supermarket, it is popular for fishing, a lunch spot, and a large public space of calm leisure. Alongside the pier, there is a nautical style lodge which houses a flood defence barrier required due to Erith’s position beyond the Thames Barrier.

The Greater Erith Regeneration Team has organised a Pier Festival over the last 2 years. In 2019, over 6000 people attended the event held in September. The event showcases local culinary talent as well as children’s entertainment. The event also focuses on supporting and promoting the many local community groups and organisations who work in Erith. It is hoped that the redevelopment of Pier Square can help to build upon this success, providing an exciting new space for cultural programming.

The redevelopment of the square sits within LBB’s Greater Erith Regeneration Programme which is harnessing the entrepreneurial and creative spirit already present in the town to bring about new opportunities for regeneration and growth. The programme is dedicated to working with the local community to help Erith become a flourishing riverside town by rejuvenating existing spaces, enabling new developments, and enhancing all the things that make Erith great. For more information on Erith’s regeneration programme visit greatererith.com

To assist in background research in meeting this brief, below are some of the key community groups active in Erith:

  • The Exchange (TEX) are a social enterprise set up by local residents. TEX run the old library, converting it into a usable space for the community to meet, make and The Exchange host a wide range of events and cultural programming for Erith residents and beyond.
  • Erith Think Tank are a newly formed community group who are looking to shape and influence Erith’s regeneration plans going forward.
  • F.O.R.G.E (Friends of Riverside Gardens Erith) are a friend’s group for the nearby Riverside Gardens. They assist in the upkeep of the gardens and organize events to encourage more people to use and enjoy the space. The group have more recently become a key consultant in the development of Riverside Gardens.


Please see appendix and view ground research of Erith, put together by students at London Metropolitan University (Unit 15, The CASS) for further reference material when compiling a response and addressing key themes as set out below.

This is an exciting opportunity to reinterpret the town. The following themes and practical points have been listed to inform the artist and provide context and ideas. Submissions could express or interpret one or more of the following themes and has been put forward to stimulate thinking.

  • Erith’s Industrial history
  • Erith’s past dream of a seaside resort and leisure destination
  • The connection to the river and its changing, muddy tide
  • A sense of way finding through directional design and strategy
  • Textures- a key theme for potential There are many current and redundant prints and textures found in Erith. Architectural students found revealing textures that display the historic change of Erith. These can be found in ground treatment and changing materiality, once fit for purpose and then disregarded.

Further to this, below are a few practical points for consideration:

  • Artworks could be installed on the ground, on walls close to, or around, or above the site, or some other
  • Creative use of textiles or lighting would be considered. Sculpture, play or furniture pieces are also acceptable.
  • Artworks could help strengthen the square as a meeting place, providing ‘instagrammable’ local identity and photo opportunities
  • Artworks could tell the stories of Erith’s history or reflect some of its local character and features. We encourage all applicants to visit the site to further understand the brief and
  • We would consider arts of a temporary nature so long as it degrades in such a way that it’s appearance and integrity remains a good fit with the overall scheme.
  • Successful proposals would need to be durable, vandal proof and low maintenance and should be mindful of the need to design out crime.

A decision on the overall renovation plans for Pier Square is expected in the Spring.  The planning application can be viewed at on the LB Bexley planning portal ref:20/00034/FUL. We strongly encourage all applicants to review the application and the proposals set out in the Design and Access Statement.


ALL Proposal should include;

  • An outline of your interest in this opportunity – Max 600 words
  • A description of your creative practice – Max 500 words
  • Your experience and track record of creating permanent or temporary work for the public realm – two A4 pages
  • A CV or if you are applying as a team, include CV’s for all and a brief outline of how you will work together.
  • URLs/ links to other media documentation of your previous works
  • Some initial thoughts, ideas of how you might approach this project, including art form, materials and fabrication method. Illustrations or other forms of visual aids would be helpful. Two A3 pages consisting of:
    • First page: Location plan, diagrams, and drawings / sketches that the participant judges will need to understand your proposal
    • Second page: materials and fabrication method, and a bird’s eye view to demonstrate the integration in the proposed site (as shown in Fig.2)


Applications will be shortlisted to 3 to 4 submissions. The selection panel will invite shortlisted applicants to attend a meeting to further discuss proposals (2nd Stage appointment process). Date for interviews to be confirmed. This is also an opportunity to ask questions and clarify the commission.

The 2nd stage appointment process will be an opportunity for applicants to expand on their proposals and would include including materials palette, outline budget and design drawing showing the context of the piece in relation to the wider public realm project. A sum of £100 will be offered to each shortlisted applicant to further develop their work for the 2nd Stage appointment process.  After which the successful applicant will be announced.

The following weighted criteria will be used in the first stage selection process.

Selection criteria and weightings
Quality criteria Description of quality criteria Score available Weighting
Experience & Understanding Applicant is experienced in successfully implementing art projects and delivering client briefs. Providing evidence of how previously client objectives have been met in a creative way. Evidence should include experience of ability to create public art which reflects local history and people. 0-5 15%
Accessibility The installation should be accessible to all and inclusive irrespective of age, race, creed or culture. 0-5 5%
Health and Safety Demonstrates H&S awareness, recognises the importance of durability and public safety. Applicant is able to provide examples. 0-5 5%
Identity and localism This installation should communicate Erith’s identity. Concentrating on raising the public profile of the town. Representing what is important to the community. 0-5 10%
Community Engagement We do not want this artistic to commission to stand meaningless to the people of Erith. We encourage ideas that are interactive in a variety of forms, whether that be sculptural or playful. 0-5 10%
Sustainability & Maintenance To create an installation that is there to stand the test of time and integrate sustainable materials that do not negatively affect the environment in production and/or could be locally sourced. 0-5 15%
Knowledge of maintenance requirements Demonstrates knowledge of maintenance requirements. All artworks can be in any material but will need to be robust to withstand the town centre and exposed location and have a lifespan of a minimum of ten years. They will be frost proof, resilient, vandal resistant, colour fast and water/wind resistant. 10%
Response to brief and design quality Response to the brief and quality of the design 0-5 10%
Programme ideas Propose ideas on the programme (how and through which phases you would construct?). Demonstrates adequate use of the £15,000 budget by providing a breakdown of how the money will be used 0-5 5%
Response to the proposed site and context The installation needs to be integrated and coherent with BDP’s proposed vision of the Square, in particular regarding surfacing materials and the overall colours of the scheme. 0-5 15%


If you require these in an accessible format please let us know.