Working with students from the BA Architecture and MArch courses, visiting tutor Richard Eastham helped transform a pedestrian underpass beneath the Wessex Way dual carriageway into a magical carol concert venue for an hour on Wednesday 18th December.

The fabulous choir was drawn from the nearby Malmesbury Park Primary School on Lowther Road, led by their fantastic assistant head teacher, Mr Sam Fuller.

The paper lanterns were decorated by the children in Year 3. Richard Eastham, together with students Katie Lucas and Matt Waugh, worked in the classroom with the children on this before heading underground to install the lanterns and glow sticks.

The concept behind the project was to make school children and their parents think and feel differently about what can be quite an intimidating piece of urban space. The school have reported that some families that live one side of the Wessex Way, and whose children attend Malmesbury Park Primary School, are often reluctant to walk through the subway, instead preferring to drive the long way around.

Bournemouth Borough Council have rightly identified this particular subway for improvements, such as better paintwork, visibility mirrors and a mural artwork of some description.

However, before committing to these permanent changes, the Council have been supportive of the school and AUB working together to deliver “temporary yet transformative” events of this nature to help change perceptions and attitudes, and also to create happy memories that will inspire the permanent artwork that will follow.

The carol event provoked positive reactions from all those involved and from passers-by (the subway was kept open throughout!) with comments such as “I’ve never seen it look like this before!” and “We wish it felt like this all the time!”

Special thanks to AUB students Katie Lucas, Matt Waugh, Nathan Ball, Amy Nash and Laura Thayer.

Special thanks too to AUB staff member Deano Pickering for his tireless commitment to the project and his liaison with the school and the Council.

Assistant Head Teacher Sam Fuller and children of Year 3 at Malmesbury Park School were all brilliant. Without them, and their singing voices, this event wouldn’t have happened.

Invaluable support from the Council came from Sophia O’Sullivan and Bob Askew who supplied the lights, glow sticks and bags and agreed to turn the subway lights off for the duration of the concert so we got the right lighting conditions. They also arranged for a deep clean of the subway in the days beforehand – so fantastic support from the local authority.

They are already excitedly talking about similar events for similar “unloved urban spaces” in 2014.