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Research QUESTION: How can abandoned pockets of urban space be reclaimed for community use through participatory design processes?


The project emerged through an on-going collaboration between the Bedminster Town Team and the architectural activism collective Hands-on-Bristol. Since 2013 this has brought together academics and Master of Architecture students from the Bristol School of Architecture with the community-led Bedminster Town Team to explore ways to regenerate abandoned pockets of urban space in order to benefit and engage the local community. In October 2015, a small pocket of overgrown and fly-tipped land behind a stone archway, closed off to the public by a padlocked iron gate, was identified by BTT as a potential site of investigation. This initiated a sequence of critical spatial practices by Hands-on-Bristol that drew on and engaged local people, professionals and students in the eventual co-creation of a public pocket park.

Through a process of active community consultation, opinions of local residents were gathered and the idea of a storytelling park emerged. Curved benches for small groups and individuals were designed that create spaces for storytelling amongst new planting. The student project enabled the client to apply for funding to start the build process. Collaborating with architect George Lovesmith, maker Ooma and with timber donated by James Latham of Yate, the park was recently opened with live busking and storytelling. A local resident’s group- the ‘Ebenezer Angels’- has been set up to continue the evolution of the park and organize events in the space, giving the project a continuing life beyond the involvement of the university.

UWE Master of Architecture Students:  Connie Gregory, Anna Blaire-Brown, Amy Evered, Eve Zeltina

Client: Bedminster Town Team

Collaborators:  Ooma Design (fabricator), George Lovesmith (architect), Town Centred (regeneration consultant)

Budget: £12,000