This case study shows my design for a new public park in England. The site is currently a large grassy area, used in part as a play area for local school children from an adjacent school to the north but otherwise little used.
The goal is to turn this area into an asset for the school and the surrounding community. One top priority was the creation of four large, multi-functional grass sports pitches, use of which would be shared between the school, and a new sports centre to be established on the site.
Another key goal was to create a space which those of all ages from the area could use and benefit from – where they could connect with nature and each other in a range of different ways.
A permaculture and ecology education centre and restaurant will be the hub for the park, serving as a focus for the community. And a grass amphitheatre will be created as a large outdoors events venue and recreational space. These and a ‘hidden’ toilet block will take advantage of and be set into a naturally elevated area at the heart of the space.
Only strips adjacent to the main pathway through the heart of the park, and the sports pitches and their fringes will be mowed regularly. The rest of the spaces will be allowed to remain much wilder and more eco-friendly, with far less frequent maintenance.
School children will participate in the community gardens, and help to prepare food they grow for the restaurant as part of lessons. A nature schooling zone will allow those of all ages to learn and grow through connection with the natural environments.
Meanwhile, the general public will be able to explore and enjoy the space, cycling, walking or simply relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.
All too often, public parks become boring compromises with manicured grass and a few mature trees. This design aims to show how much more a public park can be, and how these spaces can cater for both people and wildlife – with functioning ecology as well as functional and fun recreational spaces.