Groundwork were responsible for transforming a derelict site in Old Trafford, Manchester, into an accessible recreational space of approximately 900m2 for the community and local school which incorporated locally sourced environmentally sustainable materials. The project had to contribute to the creation of a ‘cleaner, safer, greener space’ and the scheme’s key innovations relate to sustainability. A detailed brief came out of initial consultation with the numerous clients and stakeholders, including the local school, residents and the landowner, Trafford Council. Groundwork produced the sketch and detailed designs for the project, which was intended to demonstrate that modern design has an important role in community spaces, sustainability and climate change mitigation.

To achieve the project brief, the Architect was part of a team that included an LI professional member and a community involvement officer. Together they worked with the clients – local residents, the school and the landowner – over a 6 month period to develop a design. The community’s support and enthusiasm for the scheme persuaded the landowner to offer the Architect free range in the use of materials normally perceived as too risky in an urban context. A number of residents committed to locking up the garden every night to protect it from vandalism and anti-social behaviour. The residents also agreed to a shared maintenance contract where they would care for the shrubs and herbaceous material while the council would cut the grass and empty the bins. After receiving a ground-breaking mandate by the community to use sustainable materials, the Architect created a layout that was equally innovative, proving that modern design has a place in community spaces. Straight lines were used to align important views to the school’s façade and to connect the garden to the outside street context. The concept of ‘free play’ was promoted and all footpaths are DDA compliant.

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