As an architect, I am interested in sustainable, biophilic and community-led design. My project, Co : Ownership, is a scheme that puts communities at the forefront and works both to connect people to each other as well as back to the land.
The Irk Valley is an area of unique heritage and beautiful landscape yet dominated by fly-tipping and other mistreatment of the land. I found that I could unite the disjointed communities and improve respect for the environment by establishing a sense of ownership. I proposed three community-led interventions; a weekend market, a garden on wheels and an adventure playground, all made from reclaimed building-site materials. These initiatives would be run by the community for the community.
The henceforth united community would help build and run their very own building. It would act as the heart of Irk Valley and generate income for the area. To create a close relationship between building, people and land, a site was chosen with strong connections to nature – sitting in St. Catherine’s Wood overlooking the Irk River – and biophilic design was established as a key strategy. Using timber with Japanese joinery, the jigsaw-puzzle like structure could be put together by local volunteers. After consultation with the various users of Irk Valley, three main spaces within the building were proposed. A café, a community area and a coworking space with integrated inside/outside gardens. All these spaces work together in a spirit of co-ownership to connect the people back to the place.