PUDDLE MEADOW - Live Project
Introduction to project
This project, Puddle Meadow, grew from a proposal in a Dorset village for an affordable skate park which, due to lack of funding, was shelved. There is already a playground for pre-school children and sports facilities for clubs but nowhere for the 6-16 age group to meeting outside. To access this kind of space the children currently rely on public transport or their friends and family. There is an obvious need for more relaxed local spaces so that rural communities are not disadvantaged. Alongside previous attempts throughout the last two years to support local biodiversity and community engagement with nature, this seemed the perfect opportunity to build something more permanent which can reflect the community and its culture and support local biodiversity.
Shown above is the preposed site and initial plans for a three part build for the skate park. Because initial funding was so low, I have designed the skate park so it can be built in three stages as the funding comes in. The first is the main looped track with a grind box and a two sided launch ramp, the second is a large bowl with a rail coming off it and the final includes two smaller bowls in the loops of the looped track. By building the skate track in stages, we hope to encourage funding by showing how the community is using and enjoying the track and therefore highlighting the need for more space and funding in the future.
I hired a digger to mark out an initial skate track according to information I’d collected about sound pollution, space and construction when building a skate park. The idea was to allow the community to start using the space, walking the track and understand it's size and feel in the area, therefore they were able to provide better feedback and creative input on the design.
Initial Visuals for Community Feedback
Launch Event in Photos - Workshops, BBQs and conversations about future plans
These manuals are designed using local materials specific to the area. They then can be used for community run workshops, encouraging engagement and education through making.
About The Project
Puddle Meadow is a new space created in southwest Dorset. A playful and interactive outdoors area which can evolve over time to reflect the community and meet the needs of young people. The aim is for the space to be malleable and not into fit one standard format of structure, it includes playful elements, conservation methods and structures to allow for creativity, such as the performance stage.
The aim is for the skatepark is to attract youth from the area and will become a component of a larger plan to incubate foot traffic and build a vital, social space. The skate park would then be intertwined with nature, not separating one from the other. The project welcomes young people from all walks of life to meet in their local area in an unstructured and freely accessible way and encourages them to use their imagination in developing the space. It seeks to help local communities to engage in their own programs and have the space to run small groups, involving less travel and improving inclusivity and diversity. This site therefore becomes a ‘knowledge hub’ where new initiatives can be tried out and studied.
To kick start the project, a series of nature-based workshops were run to bring members of the community together, start conversations and get to know the site. This meant there was involvement in the development of the space from the get-go, encouraging young people to make the space their own. The initial launch of Puddle Meadow was held last month in the form of an afternoon and evening event to introduce the concept and let the public see the existing natural beauty and potential of the site. The site has been called ‘Puddle Meadow’ due to it backing onto a meadow and the River Piddle or Puddle which flows through lots of small villages incorporating the word ‘puddle’ or ‘piddle’ such as Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Piddlehinton etc. These are the communities most likely to use the site which gives an unusual and playful character to the area whilst making it their own. I was careful not to use words like ‘park’ or ‘green’ which perhaps come with certain expectations and might stunt imagination within the space.
Moving forward, I am currently designing a website for the community to use as an information hub for future workshops and events and to share more making manuals. Through it they will be able to follow the site’s progression over the months and years as a live project. The website will hopefully provide inspiration to other rural communities to encourage similar projects. I am also starting some collaborations with local craftsmen and sourced materials to design bespoke pieces for Puddle Meadow, fitting into its ethos and offering maximum benefit for the local area, including a shared storage shed, a vegetable and herb garden, a performance stage and seating.
In Collaboration with: