The Core Design Team met for the first time last week, coming together to imagine possibilities for our area.
We began with a reminder about what’s currently happening with the terraces next to the bakery. There’s a more complete explanation in the last blog post, but as a brief reminder:
– The council have given their support to the CLT’s proposal for bringing the empty houses next to the bakery back to life. The initial brief for this, as developed by the CLT, is to mainly create community-owned housing at genuinely affordable rent, along with some space for local business and amenities.
– We have funding in place from Power to Change and Homes England’s Community-led housing fund for this design process.
– Alongside the design work the CLT is putting together a plan to fully finance the rest of the development.
Marianne, our architect from Urbed, then gave us an exercise to get us thinking about our favourite spaces; both at home and in the area.
In the mix of responses that people gave, the importance of a ‘good vibe’ was probably the most consistent. From sitting on a bench in the yard to a new house in its entirety, from Everton Library to dog-walking in the park; there was a strong sense that people placed value on being both by themselves and with others, that green space is vitally important, and that beautiful architecture goes a long way!
Next, and with us all working in different groups, Marianne asked us to imagine what we’d like the area to be in 5 years’ time.
What it would be like to live here? What it would it be like to visit?
The emphasis here was on letting our imaginations run wild; we were given permission to forget about the practicalities, the economics and the politics of it all and told to instead focus on what we desired – to think of Oakfield Terrace as utopia.
After a good chunk of discussion, looking at pictures for design inspiration and general brainstorming, the groups fed back their thoughts. Thinking about the outside space first:
– “We’re not just making a High Street – we’re building a Community Street”
– Make public space that both kids and the community use (though as someone pointed out, we do have the Rec for that as well)
– Give decent yards to the residents – nice private, outdoor space is important
– Solar panels to produce our own electricity
– “The terraces look great – perhaps we should keep the fronts but modernise the insides and out the back?”
– Places to just ‘be’ – that let you feel safe
People felt that it was important that there was a strong link between the outdoor and indoor spaces (for instance, stuff grown outdoors could be sold in the shops) whilst ideas for the inside included:
– Spaces where you can go and just hang out – they should be for more than just shopping and going home
– A health collective, somewhere people can go to find out about a whole range of services, with a particular focus on mental health – a walk-in centre for your head!
– Convenience stores that offer a bit more than usual – something like Mattas in town but cheaper
– Somewhere to eat in the evening that offers good food and a friendly, family space – like Homebaked but for an evening
– Shared spaces so that small local business (artists, alternative medical practitioners, etc) don’t have to commit to taking somewhere on full time
– The upper levels could be used as quiet spaces. Tackling isolation doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to be in hectic environments
It’s fair to say there was quite a buzz in the room as we finished the exercise, perhaps it’s no surprise, but it turns out that imagining how you want to live is pretty stimulating. As we finished up with a pie and salad, Marianne and Helen (also from Urbed) shared some provisional plans for the buildings and we started to imagine how some of what we’d been talking about might actually fit into the building.
The session was really positive, rich in ideas and energy, and gave a strong sense of why this group is so important. As we move forward into the next phase of trying to imagine how this could work in a practical sense and what we are actually able to afford, the energy we cultivated in our time together here will be important.
With many thanks to Christ Church for hosting us and to David, the new vicar there, for coming out to let us in on a Saturday morning.
We’re going to be meeting one more time before Christmas, and as we start to build the design options will start thinking about the practicalities of what we have been imagining.
Broadly, this practical work will cover two areas; what kind of homes, shops and community spaces would we love to see on the terrace and what will they actually look and feel like?
We also have to make it all stack up financially and the space we are working with is confined to 9 terraces. That means not everything we want will be possible right now and we’ll have to prioritise what we think the area needs the most. Our collective imagination will be very useful when it comes to thinking of creative solutions and – as was discussed in the meeting – there’s a lot of empty property on Oakfield Road; this could be the start of something much bigger…
We’ll be meeting more in the new year, and anyone who wants to contribute will be able to come along to the drop-in sessions that we’ll be advertising to share their thoughts.
In the meantime, do give us a shout on either Twitter or Facebook (both are @HomebakedCLT) – it would be great to hear your thoughts. And be sure to use our hashtag #designingoakfieldterrace
To continue introducing the members of the Design Team, have a watch of the videos below and meet Pat and Gary:
An agreed set of projects aims and outcomes that is recorded at the start of a design process, and that covers functional aspects – like how may houses/ how big, and also ideas about the form or shape of the project (what it will look like), and what ‘feel’ you are trying to achieve. It’s very helpful to make things clear at the outset, so everyone understands what is being proposed. It doesn’t mean that things can’t change as you work out the detail – but when it comes to making decisions later in the process it means you have an agreement about what you were trying to achieve in the first place that you can refer back to, and that has helped inform your choices.
An imagined community or society that is very close to being perfect. The word was first used by the writer Thomas More in 1516, and comes from the Greek words for ‘no-place’.