Charles Holland Architects — The Explorers

The Explorers

Creating new experiences in existing places

The Pioneering Places programme in East Kent looks to use art and culture as a catalyst to develop existing, underused spaces in the area. We were commissioned by the Land Trust to develop a work around Fort Burgoyne, formerly a Victorian defence site on the eastern edge of Dover. Abandoned since the 1950s, this remarkable site – a scheduled ancient monument – remains a hidden gem and an important historic asset for the town.

Working with Dover Arts Development (DAD), CHA developed The Explorers, a curated programme of community engagement designed to help identify new uses for the site. A series of exploratory walks led by local experts and enthusiasts introduced the local audience to a site which in recent years had become largely inaccessible.

The Explorers took the form of a two-month long series of ‘Sunday walks’, a popular form of exploratory excursion. Participants were given notepads and pencils to record their observations and ideas for the site, which were then gathered together in a ‘Big Drawing’ that acted as both a record of the process and a vision for the site’s future.

The Pioneering Places project was Commended in the Best Project category at the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence in 2022. The judges remarked that the project was “an exceptional example of collaboration and place making for a range of historic sites, providing access to areas previously closed, and for the benefit of diverse communities.”

Charles Holland Architects — The Explorers