Hartcliffe, Bristol


Design process

Planning the project

The SPACEmakers initially met every two to three weeks to talk about design and issues relating to public spaces. They visited sites in London, Glasgow and Rotterdam to experience different kinds of spaces and broaden their knowledge of design. They also spoke to other youth groups about their projects and met people who used the spaces. All of these activities helped them to develop an informed view of what they would want in a space of their own.

After attending a three-day course on public design and presentation skills at Trafford Hall in Chester, the SPACEmakers were full of energy and excited about the idea of developing a project themselves. With Urban II funding for a capital project, they began looking for a site. They undertook a social and historical audit of Hartcliffe and Withywood, identifying ten potential sites which were put forward for a vote. The final site was chosen for its location opposite a youth club and the presence of a group of mature trees which they wanted to be a focal point in the design.

Artist Kathrin Böhm of Public Works Group worked with the SPACEmakers to design temporary structures on the site. This was an important part of the project as it showed the young people that their opinions and ideas could be realised. They designed a platform and a full-size temporary shelter, then critically reviewed their designs to decide what they would change if they were permanent structures.

Designing the space

The SPACEmakers placed an advert in Building Design to find a designer to work with them on the project. From 17 responses, three were invited to an interview. Greg White of Loci Design was the successful candidate and he went on to meet the young people every two weeks over three months. They started off by brainstorming ideas and writing a ‘wish list’ which they kept referring back to throughout the project. The SPACEmakers used plasticine models to develop designs and Greg also made 3D models. As well as the visual design, the group considered the robustness of different materials, how the site would be accessed and safety issues, particularly around the watercourse.

When construction got underway, the contractor invited the SPACEmakers to the site to see their ideas becoming reality.