Patrick Hubmann & Mitchell Bloomfield // Grand Plaza Express

// The Festival of Looking //

Born in Graz, Austria in 1974, Hubmann studied engineering and interior design. He worked between 1999 and 2011 at ‘la Fabbrica di Olinda’ and ‘Servizio Educativo di Adolescenti in Difficoltà’ in Milan, Italy as a trainer, designer and workshop manager developing collections of household items and furniture produced by people with mental health issues, school dropouts, and refugees. As part of the Milanese collective ‘esterni’ between 2004 and 2015 he was responsible for the design and set-design of events in public space like ‘Milano Film Festival’ or ‘Public Design Festival’. Through the Berlin-based international network ‘constructLab’ since 2012, he participates in projects of temporary architecture, building and activating collectively urban spaces. In 2013 he moved to Porto, Portugal, where he develops local projects in public space with community participation.

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Written in April: Born in Folkestone and graduated from the Anglia Ruskin University in 2015 with a degree in Illustration, Mitch is now a key team member for Fringe's production work across artists projects and Festivals. Bloomfield’s ideas for Magic Carpets are still developing. For now, he has been predominantly interested in the construction process that works in line with building organically. This could mean, for example, building for purpose/building for and with the people, or a type of build that could be re-invented each day for differing purposes through its creation and use...just like Folkestone’s very own toolbox.

Project Summary:

Patrick Hubmann & local MC practitioner Mitchell Bloomfield collaborated this year. Patrick’s work plays on the potential of possibilities within places, and has been inspired by the ideas & expectations of #Folkestone as a holiday destination. The two invited local residents, visitors, artists & makers to work collectively to design & construct a new train. Once built, it offered residents & visitors a temporary ‘packaged holiday’ with sections that hosted different leisure activities, from a private dining carriage to a pool.

"Now is your chance to re-live, re-instate & re-engage with the magic of Tram Road being the ultimate holiday stop, and to feel encouraged to think & speak about YOUR stories, memories, knowledge, concerns & hopes for the future."

Patrick Hubmann’s journey from London to Folkestone by train was the first point of inspiration for his MagiC Carpets residency. This arrival reminded Patrick of his first and only visit to the UK 30 years earlier as a teenager on a language exchange trip to Eastbourne, a seaside town not far from Folkestone. This triggered his own memories of arriving as an outsider in another place. Patrick built upon this initial idea by exploring the town and by using the rich historical resources available at Urban Room Folkestone, where Patrick was based for his residency. This public space also provided a great opportunity for Patrick to discuss his ideas & perceptions, and to also gather these from residents and visitors to the town.

Patrick knew he wanted to create a project that would be as collaborative as possible and would encourage people to think about alternative uses for spaces. He wanted to encourage people to think about how things could be in the future and how they could even have a say in what happens.

A previous workshop held at Urban Room Folkestone asked people, ‘What local knowledge do you have that you wouldn’t find on a street map?’ and ‘What would you like to see in the future in Folkestone?’ People had written their memories, stories, and facts, and drew their future dreams of Folkestone onto a map. These future dreams included; more public swimming pools, an amphitheatre, cycle lanes, more greenery, a steam train, and more beach cafes. This provided Patrick with numerous ideas about what could be included in his project and how other people could be involved.

On reflecting on the brief, Patrick asked, ‘What can we build which will bring people together and that everyone will be attracted to?’ By gathering together everything they had learnt so far, Patrick decided that the answer to this question was clear. The train was the major force that had brought people to Folkestone in the past, turning it into a popular seaside resort halfway between London and Paris and developed the town to what it is today. It is also something that people have a strong emotional connection to. So Patrick proposed that he would build a new train – The Grand Plaza Express.

The Grand being taken from The Grand Burstin, an enormous hotel overlooking the Folkestone Harbour and where Patrick played the popular retro leisure activity of Bingo during the research visit in April. Plazabeing taken from the idea from a workshop called Let’s Play Plaza which considered alternative uses for an area at the crossroads of the redundant railway tracks, Folkestone Harbour and other areas of the town. The Expresswas taken from the famous Orient Express which passed through Folkestone in its heyday which is still alive in peoples’ memories.

The train would also contain other ideas gathered from the workshops; a public swimming pool and a dining carriage, creating a temporary packaged holiday for residents and visitors on the railway tracks.


June 15 2019 // 14:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram RoadCar-Park

Magic Carpets Open-Studios- come and be involved in the construction.

June 16 2019 // 11:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Magic Carpets Open-Studios- come and be involved in the construction.

Wed 19 Jun 2019 // 15:00 - 19:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Face in the Hole board workshop

Thurs 20 Jun 2019 // 15:00 - 19:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Train building workshop

Fri 21 Jun 2019 // 15:00 - 19:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Post-card designing workshop

Sat 22 Jun 2019 // 14:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Tote-bag printing workshop

Sun 23 Jun 2019 // 11:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Flag painting workshop

Fri 28 Jun 2019 // 17:00 - 21:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Launch of the Grand Plaza Express

Sat 29 Jun 2019 // 11:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Performance on board the Grand Plaza Express

Sun 30 Jun 2019 // 11:00 - 17:00 // Urban Room Folkestone, Tram Road Car-Park

Packaged Holiday

The Train:

These activities took place over a busy 3 weeks, leading up to the final event at the end of June as part of the first edition of the Festival of Looking hosted by Urban Room Folkestone. After a month-long building process, Patrick Hubmann’s and Mitchell Bloomfield’s expectations of this came into shape; as materials were gathered and set, next followed the question of how to engage with an audience. As the summer weather arrived, Urban Room Folkestone became a nesting ground of activity. The workshops were set up in coordination with the progression of their ideas and with the continuous construction of the train structure itself, which stood in the outside space of URF. These workshops were based on the creation of typical British seaside experiences, such as flag & postcard making, and included working with local schools to those simply wandering by the space. This led up to the presentation of the train on the closing festival weekend after much deliberation regarding the possibility of physically situating it on the physical tracks as well as whether it could move down the length of the line. The day before the festival commenced, we managed to position it perfectly at the entrance to the renovated Harbour Branch walkway, which oversaw huge visitor traction, especially on the day of the air-show (Sunday 30 June.)

On Saturday, the two parts of the structure moved as part of the closing performance. The structure’s purpose now, intends to continue being multi-functional, with ideas circulating around it being a new feature in Folkestone Harbour Arm’s East-Yard.

Hubmann wanted to comment on the railway infrastructure that cuts this town into two parts- by making it fundamentally accessible for engagement- perceived from a simultaneous past, present & future outlook. He concluded that the project took the form of not being a perfect model, yet somehow a prototype to work with in the future. The project grew consequentially, which gave it a true feeling of what would be organic building; a certain magic of not always knowing what or who was going to get involved next. To create the perfect train with a prolonged amount of time with more access to a wider/national audience, and without technical complications, would become competitive through its construction & engagement.

It was important to both Patrick and the Folkestone Fringe team that the Grand Plaza Express would have a life beyond the Festival of Looking. After discussions about the possible future uses of the train, it was agreed that the carriages would be used as a pavilion at Folkestone Harbour, located at the end of the redundant Harbour Branch Line.

It is also hoped that permission will be granted in the future for the train to run along the whole stretch of the Harbour Branch Line which, at present, is still unused. This performance would provide onlookers with a vision of the past use of the line as well as open discussions about its future possibilities.


1 April 2019

MagiC Carpets // 2019
Progress Agency