On Tenterground

Location: Toynbee Hall
Date: 2023
Status: Commission
Client: Aldgate Connect, London Metropolitan University

On Tenterground was commissioned by Aldgate Connect and LFA, in partnership with London Metropolitan University. The aim was to create a programmable space that would test out new scenarios for providing space for cultural and social exchange in Aldgate’s public realm. The space was to be animated by workshops and performances led by LMU’s MA Public Art and Performance Practices students throughout the month of July. In January 2023, emerging landscape architect ciaociao design (Chāo Gāo) was commissioned for this intervention.

The design

On Tenterground by ciaociao design

On Tenterground © Luke O’Donovan

The concept for the installation was inspired by Aldgate’s historical garment trade (in particular the nearby Petticoat Lane market) and the area’s 17th-century use as tenterground; drying newly manufactured wet cloth taut using tenter hooks after fulling. 

Utilising everyday materials such as scaffold and nylon, On Tenterground’s layered fabric ‘roof’ structure references cloth hanging on tenter hooks, and provides a covered stage area for student performances and workshop activations.

A student performance © Sisira Maddumage
On Tenterground © Luke O’Donovan

The workshops facilitated by LMU students contributed to a collective exhibition within ciaociao design’s pavilion structure, called Tales of (UP)Rising, which ran throughout the month of July 2023. The workshops centred on themes of storytelling, writing and memory, encouraging visitors and local residents to engage with Aldgate’s history, and integrate their own stories into the area.


London Metropolitan University workshops © Luke O’Donovan
Journalling workshop © Sisira Maddumage
The installation designer – ciaociao design – and students from LMU © Sisira Maddumage


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