About Testbed

Testbed is exploring how people will use the new University Square which will soon be built in Preston, through events, engagements and artworks.

The Testbed the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) new temporary artist-in-residence installation in Preston. Set up as an investigatory ‘urban room’ and literal ‘think-tank’, #thetestbed is an ultimately relocatable and adaptable ‘pop-up’ space, but in this instance it will be in place from early October untill 22nd December 2018.

The space is looking to both engage student and community alike by exploring innovative new ideas. It is interested in seeing how people will engage with and use the new Student Centre and University Square, soon to be built in this space, through a series of events, engagements and artworks. The concept was developed by public art consultant Ian Banks of Atoll Collaborative , as part of the evolving public art vision for the UCLan Masterplan. As such, the testbed has hosted artist David Boultbee of BREAD Arts , as it’s resident artist. In this, David is also being supported by artist Ben Rutherford.


On site until just before Christmas 2018, BREAD Arts will be initiating and prototyping new creative ideas, all linked to the developing public art and engagement strategy linked to both UCLan’s new Student Centre and adjoining square . This £57m development is about to begin construction on our site from 2019 – and is all part of the ambitious and ongoing UCLan Masterplan to reimagine the city campus.

The proposed design for this 12-week long residency was conceived as a 20’ open-ended high cube shipping container converted to an office studio, with full glazing / glazed patio doors to each end and electric supply for sockets and lighting. The testbed site is on the same site as the future student centre and square (i.e. the adjacent site to the Adelphi Hotel).

In this guise as the Testbed at least, the pop-up installation will be based here only in a three month period prior to main building works commencing sometime in 2019. During that period, other construction enabling works will likely also be ongoing, including a series of planned archaeological works to the adjacent site and other site demolitions. Thereafter, other complimentary uses, locations and occupiers of #thetestbed are also being investigated.


The converted container was supplemented with a matching unconverted sea container, used along with some temporary decking and fencing to form a secure working enclosure. A central roof structure was also added later in conjunction with UCLan Architecture B.Arch.

How the testbed facility was to be used and made bespoke by the artist was developed and evolved as part of David Boultbee’s ongoing residency. This information was added to this blog and supporting Instagram , Twitter and Google Photo as the works content and partnerships collaborations developed. See separate header link to BREAD Arts’ practice above or here  .

The ‘voice’ and research strands of this supporting blog and the linked Twitter account are being facilitated by public art consultant Ian Banks. They are being used as to help investigate and map a wider projects’ public art vision further – whilst also supporting and logging David’s ongoing residency. David’s own artistic record can be viewed in his separate Instagram.

You can email David Boultbee or Ian Banks via the same email on:  thetestbedpreston@gmail.com .


The converted shipping containers to #thetestbed were fabricated and installed by Universal Containers, and the linked compound and enclosure was constructed by Ashton Joinery & Building Services.