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Grenville Gardens allotment project exemplifies community urban growing

Student-led design project empowers community to reclaim local park

As the London Festival of Architecture draws to a close, few projects have promoted ‘The Playful City’ more than the community urban growing project based in Grenville Gardens, Islington. The elevated allotment box scheme designed by AIU final year students, the first of its kind to become a permanent addition to a public space, has succeeded in reconnecting Islington’s diverse community.

Initiated by FROGG and commissioned by Islington Council, the garden consists of 18 wooden planting boxes, each built and stewarded by a local family. The structures then slot into an elevated watering channel fed by rainwater harvested from a local roof.

GrenvilleCommuityAllotments_6

Source: Ittai Frank

Participating families take home their own ‘dam’ to control water flow to their box

Conceptually, the scheme is based on the idea of neighbourhood growing and flourishing around a water source. Engineers Buro Happold guided the students through the pragmatics of construction, dealing with contamination from lively Japanese knottweed by elevating the boxes above the ground plane. The design was realised in conjunction with Murphy Group contractors with the Architects Network as lead consultants.

As part of the on-site neighbourhood assembly, each family was presented with a step-by-step guide to constructing their own allotment box. Designs were tailored to the individual’s needs through varied heights, location combination and later planting choices with tending assistance from Capital Growth. The resultant allotment project is truly a reflection of the multi-nationality and vibrancy of the Islington community and energy of its residents.

‘Community endeavour brought us all together, people now know each other who have never spoken before and we learn to grow with the bonus of improving our health’ Sarah Roth, Chair, Friends of Grenville Gardens

GrenvilleCommuityAllotments_4

Source: Ittai Frank

Local residents get stuck in to the construction process of their boxes

The project has generated national interest as a transferrable scheme and exemplary bottom-up initiative. Residents maintain a visual connection with their allotments, tending to and watching out for their neighbour’s boxes, reclaiming ownership of the previously under-used park.

For more information about the project, click here.

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