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Plymouth launches green space micro-commission

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Plymouth City Council is looking for an architect for a low-cost revamp of Red Brick field in Barne Barton

The £30,000 project, backed by socially engaged arts organisation Take A Part, will regenerate the ‘uninspiring’ 0.5ha plot (pictured), which opened two years ago, introducing a new landmark gateway, seating, play facilities, landscaping and way-marking to the park.

According to the brief: ‘As a consequence of the construction of a new waste incinerator to the south-east of Barne Barton, the client group is in receipt of £30,000 in section 106 monies to be spent on improvements to benefit quality of life in the community.

‘It is the intention of the client group to commission an original and distinctive proposal for improvements that activate the space, enhance the function and identity of the field, and encourage greater use by the community.’

Barne Barton is around 5km from the city centre, north of the Devonport naval base. It was originally built as a naval estate providing married quarters for Ministry of Defence staff, but was transformed into social housing in the early 1990s. It is now the seventh most deprived neighbourhood in Plymouth. The Red Brick estate was designed by local practice ADG, and constructed on the site of Barne Barton Secondary School in 1992.

The competition site is landlocked green space which had previously earmarked for more housing. It features a half-sized football pitch, some five-a-side goals, a community orchard, a bin and a shipping container for storage.

Proposals should include a new gateway feature that creates a sense of arrival and reinforces local history and identity; as well as play facilities for ‘kerby’ ball games, a gateway to the community orchard, seating and signage directing visitors to the site.

Participating teams should have experience designing public-realm projects and be capable of working collaboratively with the client and local community. Applications should include a CV and a portfolio detailing four previous relevant projects.

Judges include Pat Patel of the Tamar View Community Centre, Debbie Burton from Plymouth City Council and Beth Richards of Take A Part.

Up to four shortlisted teams will receive £200 each to draw up conceptual proposals and attend an interview on 17 November. The winning team – set to be announced on 21 November – will receive the design commission, with the project set to complete in 2017.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 9 November.

How to apply

View the request for qualifications and project brief for more information

Contact details

Christine Auguste
Plymouth City Council
Windsor House
Floor 3

Tel: +441752305697
Email: christine.auguste@plymouth.gov.uk
Fax: +441752304923

Q&A: Take A Part director Kim Wide

Why does Red Brick field need an ‘original and distinctive’ overhaul?

Currently the Red Brick field is overlooked by many members of the community; we want this project to draw attention to the site as a safe space for play amongst community members. The neighbourhood of Barne Barton has some specific issues relating to green space provision - much of the green space in the area is owned by the MOD (Devonport dockyard borders Barne Barton) and so is inaccessible to the community. To complicate things, Red Brick field is tucked away in a smaller estate in the neighbourhood, with only one pedestrian access point, so the designs need to consider this and encourage it as a destination point for young people and families. At present, the flat field is quite well-used but uninspiring, with a storage container and football goalposts as its only play features. We want the design to activate the space and provide inspiration for many different types of play activities, as well as to create a space where families want to spend time together.

What sort of designers are you hoping will apply?

We are hoping that designers who have a good understanding of the specific community context will apply for the commission. Take A Part are committed to socially engaged methodologies, so we would like the designers to consider when and how this engagement will take place. There is a danger of over-consulting with the community; thinking about ways community members can help fabricate the project may be more appropriate than continuing with research questions about what change the residents want to see. As you can see from the brief, there is already a comprehensive set of ideas from the community as starting points, some of which are quite unique - a play feature which responds to ‘kerby’ for example, a game I’ve never heard of before working in Barne Barton! Practitioners who are interested in socially engaged practice, working in communities high on the social-deprivation index, and who are interested in possible opportunities of working with other creative practitioners e.g. visual artists would benefit from this commission.

Which similar low-cost public realm overhauls have you been impressed by?

The commissioned designers and practitioners will have an innovative approach to the project partly because of the relatively small budget. Working with communities, conversations around ‘value’ are constant; £30K is a huge amount in the community’s eyes, while this may seem modest from a designer’s point of view. We know from our past work through Take A Part that amazing things can be achieved with these budgets; last year we worked with Muf to create a new bridge in Kinterbury Creek in Barne Barton. Working with young people from the area, Muf co-designed a bridge in an estuary foreshore, giving access in a community where 90% of waterfront access is cut off due to MOD use of land. This project was a huge success and has created a desire for further community-engaged art and architecture projects in Barne Barton. For more information about this work visit: http://www.effordtakeapart.org.uk/kinterbury-creek-bridge/ Earlier in 2016, Take A Part ran an international symposium on socially-engaged practice, its impacts and methods, and Assemble were our keynotes, delivering an inspiring talk about past projects including their work in Granby, Liverpool, New Addington and East Glasgow. Assemble’s considered relationship to materials, people and place, and emphasis on collaboration, is something that excited us at Take A Part and in Barne Barton. We hope that the Red Brick commission will continue our work with exciting designers with innovative approaches; we are looking forward to reading your proposals.


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