Story telling bench for new pocket park in Bedminster

Issue date: 21 April 2016

A forgotten space on North Street in Bedminster is gradually being turned into a 'pocket park' in a project involving student volunteers and academics from the Bristol School of Architecture at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), as part of the 'Hands-on-Bristol' project working with the Bedminster Town Team.

The latest project features a special 'story telling bench' that has been designed by students in collaboration with the Hands-on-Bristol collective, architect George Lovesmith and the fabricator John Griffiths of OOMA design and funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Crafted in accoya wood that was generously gifted by James Lathams of Yate, the bench is a semi-circle shape with a high back to give a sense of an enclosure where children and can cosy up and tell and listen to stories with parents and friends.

The space behind the Ebenezer Gate on North Street is a narrow alleyway, lined by an avenue of trees. Previously the space was not open to the public and was used to store building waste but gradually over the past three years the teams have been working on a regeneration scheme.

The beautiful storytelling bench is the latest in a series of community projects at Ebenezer Gate. Opinions and dreams of local residents have been integral to the pocket park which is very much a co-creation between local people and the student team.

George Grace from Bedminster Town team said, “The students have created a wonderful design that has exceeded all our expectations. We are very excited to see the finished bench in situ in our new packet park. The students at UWE Bristol helped with the application for matched funding as well as finding a sponsor. We are delighted with the work they have done for us.”

Student Amy Evered said, “We worked alongside the Bedminster Town Team to develop a scheme that would develop the disused land behind the Ebenezer Gate in to a pocket park for the community. Through a series of design team meetings and analysis into the history of the site, we developed a scheme that would open the site to the public and introduce a platform for reading and relaxing within the boundaries of a green urban pocket park.

“Through working closely with the community team and the local public, we have gained the experience of designing for the needs of the public.

Dr Rachel Sara from UWE Bristol has coordinated the project; she said, “Live projects can potentially bridge the gap between education and practice by creating a truly professional graduate aware of the social and ethical responsibility of its profession.

“Students gain skills in professionalism, communication, participatory design practices, group working and dealing with all the complexities and contradictions of working in real life contexts.”

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