Three New Innovative Shelters for the Whole Community
Three innovative and eye-catching shelters, known as the Hertsmere Community Spaces, have been designed specifically for three very different green spaces in Hertsmere and will be installed this autumn in Phillimore Recreation Ground in Radlett (above image), Furzefield in Potters Bar, and The Moatfield in Bushey
The Hertsmere Community Spaces project is the result of a thorough and inclusive design process that has not only won over some resistant residents, but has engaged with a range of young people from the borough and has included a range of stakeholders on the design team including the police.
The project led by Hertsmere Borough Council commissioned arts and environment organisation Green Heart Partnership (GHP) to develop the project and manage the design and community engagement process. GHP is facilitated by Haring Woods Associates, who worked with multi-disciplinary design team Superblue to design the shelters by working with a range of local people to explore and respond to their needs, ideas and aspirations for new types of shelters that would be attractive and safe for a diverse groups of people using their local parks.
The structures have been a triumph of inclusive design, proving that a thorough and detailed design process that invites input from a wide range of the community and local and regional stakeholders, is possible and productive. Although the project generated some negative responses in the first instance, the inclusive design process has taken the community along the journey of all aspects that need to be considered when developing multiple-user facilities with a limited budget to reach imaginative and viable design results.
The project was named Hertsmere Community Spaces to instill a feeling of unique structures for all the community to use, rather than simply installing ‘off-the-shelf’ standard shelters that have no design connection to the site and can quickly become misused or underused. A major concern voiced by some residents was that the shelters would increase anti-social behaviour in the area, by providing young people with somewhere to congregate. To address this, GHP established an interdisciplinary team of officers from Hertsmere Borough Council’s Parks, Health and Safety, Planning and Culture Departments, Aldenham Parish Council and especially the Police including both the Antisocial Behaviour Caseworker from Hertsmere Community Safety Unit and a range of Police Community Support Officers from each area. This project team was established at the outset and ensured that all aspects of the shelters’ usage and impact on the community were fully considered before reaching the final design stage, as well as generating ownership by the different departments responsible for the shelters’ maintenance and legacy.
Working in tandem with the interdisciplinary project team, the Hertsmere Community Spaces project developed a vibrant marketing campaign with an independent website, postcards, posters and stickers distributed around the three sites. These advertised the project and three engagement activities over the summer that invited local people to discuss their ideas with the designers and officers from the council. Draft designs were then presented to the public and a series of public meetings were held at each site before designs were finally signed off at the end of September. This thorough and phased consultation process has resulted in three innovative designs, specific to each park’s environment and the people who use them. As well as providing a meeting space, seating and shelter for a range of users, the shelter at Phillimore Recreation Ground can also be used as a performance space by the variety of local community arts organisations and other community events; the shelter for The Moatfield ties in with a wider landscape design to introduce natural play into the park; and the shelter at Furzefield provides a viewing space in the centre of the park for the well used skatepark and football pitches.
Each shelter will be constructed using materials that are hardwearing and sympathetic to the natural landscape, creating warm and welcoming spaces that people will want to use. The inclusive nature of these three attractive structures aims to serve the whole community and create intergenerational spaces, and therefore reduce the risk of mis-use and vandalism.
The expectation is that these unique and exciting structures will become showcases for other local authorities wanting to employ their resources for young people’s spaces in a creative and integrated way, which avoids alienating other sections of the community, and provides attractive and landmark shelters for all.