Young people designed and built a prominent public space in Hackney, having a genuine say over how their local area is changing.
Located on a formally unloved and litter-covered thoroughfare; Flanders Way public space is now a new green pocket. The new site features a circular fixed-seating area with integrated swings, new lighting, brightly coloured bins, timber signage and an exciting playful border with cast iron artwork.
The project began with a series of workshops in April 2019 with young people aged 10-12 from two local schools (Berger Primary School and Cardinal Pole Catholic Secondary School). The workshops focused on collating information about the local area and developing skills in construction methods. During the Easter holidays, the young people decided the future of the neglected public space. With Build Up’s trained designers, alongside designers and horticultural specialists from the local area, the young people worked collectively to propose ideas for a community space that could be enjoyed by everyone, as well as help to protect the existing trees. Through drawing, model making and group debates, the scheme was refined and reworked into a final proposal.
The final proposal features a playful boarder of vertical timber sleepers, which mark the edges of the space and invites users to climb, sit and interact with the varying height structures. Nestled within the boarder are delicate cast iron artworks, featuring positive messages to Hackney, which have been designed and made by the Build Up Hackney team of young people. The focal point of the space is a circular seating area, with integrated fixed seating and moving swings at different heights – a decision that the young people felt important in their efforts to create a space that was accessible to people of all ages, sizes and abilities. Crafted, colourful armrests and a table add to this heightened level of accessibility.
Over 20 young people from the two schools, and from local youth organisation and project partner Hackney Quest, joined together to build the project over the summer. The Build Up Hackney team worked daily for 4 busy weeks, digging, sawing, drilling, ramming, sculpting and shaping the new wonderful public space now widley enjoyed in Hackney. Construction was supported by streams of wonderful volunteers keen to support the team of young builders. Two local residents and movement makers, Shenique and Daniel, also worked on the project throughout as part of the organisation’s paid work placement program.
“I have grown up in Hackney all my life and seen all of the change it’s gone through – for the first time I was able to actively take part in it”. Shenique Bass, aged 22
The project was generously supported by the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants, Lawsons Timber, Makita Power Tools, C&S Builders Merchants, Real Deals For You, Engie, as well as Wick Awards, Community Fund, Mayor of London and Hackney Council. This support has made Build Up’s biggest and most ambitious project to date possible.