New gateway to The Level unveiled

A new archway will welcome visitors to The Level, with a sculpture reflecting the history of the park.

Happenstance at The Level
Happenstance at The Level

The new pedestrian archway, known as The Happenstance, is placed at the southern entrance of The Level Park at St Peter’s Place.

The Happenstance, which means a chance meeting or event, is made from mirrored stainless steel and reflects its surroundings and the people passing by.

But look more closely and you’ll see names and faces of historical figures that have importance to The Level and Brighton and Hove etched into metal perforations. The images were chosen following widespread consultation with park users, the council said.

The history of The Level goes back as far as the 1700s, when it was open grassland set within an agricultural landscape.

Since then its use has been continuous and varied — it has served as a cricket ground for the Prince of Wales, a venue for livestock fairs, a pony racing course, and a place to celebrate events such as the overthrow of Napoleon Bonaparte and the coronation of both George IV and Queen Victoria. For a short time from 1944 it even served as a base for the Royal Engineers regiment of the British army.

This new archway reflects this history and marks a new chapter in the Level’s story, the council said.

The sculpture has been designed by a team of artists and architects from local creative architectural practice Alter & Company, winners of a national arts competition to develop a pedestrian archway.

The sculpture has been funded from developer contributions from Zise Two Ltd, for the new Kings Education International School in Ditchling Road.

Grant Shepherd, architect of Alter & Company, said: “Our aim was to embed the vast amount of history and memories collected of The Level over the past 300 years into a beautiful piece of interactive art.

“The characteristic Elm trees that surround the park and the entrance provide shade and an intimate dappled atmosphere which is reflected in our design.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairman of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “This stunning new sculpture is an exciting addition to one of the city’s most popular parks. I’m sure it will be enjoyed by the hundreds of people who pass though the Level every day, both now and well into the future.”