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Drumming at Gillett Square, Dalston

Gillett Square is not a traditional London public square of the Georgian or Victorian type. Darkened bricks and clean oil painted moldings do not face a railed lawn; shiny plaques advertising professional services do not appear on sturdy gloss finished doors; and no office or council worker sleeps through their lunch break on a memorial bench.

It is a square of remnants and additions. It has been carved out of the detritus of a backyard and forced into shape. Backs of buildings have been layered to create commercial fronts. A derelict wall is left as a feature. Fresh and tired sidle up against each other, looking to avoid confrontation though not always succeeding.

It is contemporary. Nineteen drummers have occupied the space, a temporary addition that changes the square’s spatial and social dynamics. The arrangement of drum kits in plan form illustrate the ergonomics of space, and this is also how Gillett Square functions. Its informality encourages change of use, and the people that occupy the square are able to successfully manipulate its function, and are happy to do so.

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