Research Aim: To explore ways that low cost interventions in community gardens can encourage social interaction and engagement.

The client for the project was the J3 Forest School, a collection of residents who organise weekly outdoor learning activities, primarily for children who live at the Junction 3 development.

They currently rely on community spaces and other Forest School’s around Bristol in order to run their own sessions. They would like to be able to host their own Forest School in the community garden at Junction 3.

Whilst the J3 Forest School were our primary client, there were a number of other stakeholders who we had to liaise with to give the project the best chance of progressing successfully. A local CIC group meet with the housing association on a monthly basis and discuss any concerns the residents have and opportunities for future events and funding. It was important that we discussed any proposals with them in order to deliver a design that suited the needs of the whole community.

One of the first things we proposed was to run an engagement event in the green space and invite local residents along to share their ideas and opinions. We provided activities for the children that simulated potential events and sessions that they could expect the J3 Forest School to run in the community garden. Adults and children were really excited to join in with activities that were happening right on their doorstep, in a space that they see rarely get used.

Our proposals detailed a phased strategy that would initially enable the housing association and council to provide low-cost interventions to encourage the engagement from other residents. This could act as a springboard for future development when further funds become available.

Phase 1 outlines a landscraping strategy; self-build grass mounds that are constructed from cardboard. The design and construction is simple to encourage the residents and Forest School to get involved. There is the opportunity for residents to adapt the seats to become planters, as there is an active gardening community at the Junction 3 Development.  By kick starting the development with phase 1, we envisage further stages being a gradual process and encompassing green spaces further afield.

UWE Master of Architecture Students: Esther Slade, Thomas Bostock, Rhiddi Bora, Katie Chu and Kay Ma