|Below describes the
process we took to arrive to where we are today - another acre of land
to create and expand our oasis onto the Nia Centre's carpark on Old Birley Street.
Please scroll down and go to Discussion and Design Day which explains how we went about it. We update this page as projects develop.
If you want to get involved with any of these projects, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Helene Rudlin on 0161 227 8198.
Once the tarmac was lifted and recycled, we found a 700mm deep compacted rubbles and then another 700mm of clay. We are planning to create a cob building in Spring 2013 and this clay soil has the right percentage of clay content to use for the new building. We have had to hand pick bricks and stones and put it back in the trench to form a layer of drainage for future planting. We have found that by using a technique call Hugelkultur, creating large layered compost piles covered with a growing medium. By placing logs, branches, twigs, fallen leaves at the bottom of our trench, and covering in top soil and then add our own made compost, it will help retain moisture, build soil fertility, improve drainage and use woody debris that is unsuitable for other uses. Our branches will be found when we cut down our 40m long hedge in the winter 2012.
We have also made a start to our Info Hub with the help of Rebecca Robinson from the Centre for Alternative Technology. We have made the holes for the beams to form the structure. The beams ends have been slow burnt to prevent them to rot once in the ground. Raised beds made of railway sleepers are also slowly being created.
This is the story so far in images ...
Info Hub with reciprocal roof structure ...
Once the beams end were burnt we concreted the beams in each holes. Duncan Roberts, lecturer at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, came to give us a hand on the last day in November. We are now set to start making the panels which will be made of weaved willow which we coppiced from our site in january 2013, adding different materials as weave and attached with raspberry stem fibre made into rope. We will then make shingles for the roof. The structure should be completed in May.
Sheffield Live Project ...
A group of 12 architectural students from Sheffield University have 6 weeks to design and build our new shade loving plants area which will run onto the extension on the carpark. We are very excited with this project and our new Volunteer Coordinator Assistant, Dave Hine, is leading this project with the students. The project will be completed on 27th October and launched as part of the Apple & Pumpkin Day annual event. All materials used were found and recycled from tarmac, cobbles, bricks, logs and stones into the gabion, gabions made with our old fence, bamboo found by volunteers from another project in Alexandra Park, water plant stand is the old ice box from Sheffield University Student Union and all the timber is recycled too.
A HUGE thank you to the Sheffield gang. It is an amazing wonderful structure. It was featured in the December AJ, Architectural Journal and can be seen here ... http://www.ajbuildingslibrary.co.uk/projects/display/id/5800
The students progress can be seen by visiting their blog here ... http://liveproject-hulme.tumblr.com/
As you may know Hulme Community Centre (HCGC) is growing! Manchester City Council has granted us use of the long unused and unloved former NIA Centre car park in Hulme. This piece of land, which is just under an acre, is adjacent to the existing HCGC site meaning the Centre will be doubling in size. We have big ideas for the new space including eco-friendly buildings (much like the straw bale classroom that we’ve just built – the first one of its kind in Manchester), community growing space, more woodland and micro-generation technology.
HCGC is a not for profit community garden centre, governed by local people and it’s because of this we held a Discussion and Design Day on the 15th May at Hulme Hall. This was an opportunity for local people to talk to us and inform the design of ‘HCGC mark II’. Around 50 people turned up and together we built a model of what the new site could look like. Everyone was really enthusiastic about what could be achieved and some brilliant ideas came out of the discussion such as an orchard, a new pond and perhaps even beehives! As well as this we held mini consultations with the various groups and projects we have onsite to make sure that everyone had an opportunity to have their say!
We have been developing the ideas set out at the consultations with a team of urban design experts, who have helped us consolidate the most popular and realistic ideas and start to map out a plan to transform the car park into an extension that the organisation and the community can really be proud of!
As soon as we’ve secured funding for a fence and put that in place we will be moving full steam ahead with developing the car park. We’ve already lots of people offering to volunteer and we are always looking for more people to help maintain our current site and to get stuck in and create something beautiful for Hulme.
If you want to get involved drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0161 227 8198.
This is the final design option chosen.
With our Friday Club we also ran a mini consultation asking everyone what they would like to see in the new site; pond (and ducks), flowers, veg, trees, grass and cafe was amongst the wishes as well as somewhere warm in winter so that we don't have to close in the winter ...! Thank you to all for your wonderful suggestions.
up date ...
The focus for this was a workshop held in the Claremont Centre on Sunday 10th May 2011. This was organised using the Design for Change format and involved just over 40+ people.
They involved representatives from the centre’s staff and trustees, people who use the garden centre and members of the wider community. The aim of the afternoon was to develop a shared vision for the garden centre and in particular to draw up proposals for the extension of the centre into the adjacent car park.
The people at the workshop were split into three tables and the session included four parts:
1. Vision: The people at each table were asked to introduce themselves and to say what the garden centre means to them. The group were then asked to workshop the responses into a 20 word vision for the garden centre in the future.
2. Ingredients: The groups were then given sheets with hundreds of images of things that could be included in the garden, different types of planting, buildings activities, wildlife etc… They were asked to individually circle the images that reflected what they would like to see and then as a group they cut our these images and made a collage of them. This produced, what designers call a style sheet that gives a visual impression of what they wanted. These were pinned up and people were invited to look at the sheets of the other groups and to comment with post it notes and tick things they agreed with.
3. Design: The groups were then asked to list the things they wanted in the garden centre and to identify the new elements that needed to be incorporated into the extension. They were then given modelling material, placticine, felt, pipe cleaners etc… and asked to model the centre and the extension. This is a very collaborative form of plan making in which everyone can particulate rather than just the person holding the pencil.
4. Feedback: Each of the three tables were asked to spend five minutes preparing a presentation of their model. The participants then gathered around each table in turn to listed to the presentations that were filmed and are available on the Garden Centre web site.
Vision: Overall the workshop demonstrated a broad level of support and affection for the Garden Centre. People felt a strong sense of ownership and connection with the centre and also shared a strong vision for how it should develop. The vision statements were as follows:
‘A green community space where people can relax and express themselves as well as learn about plans and wildlife.
‘A relaxing, inclusive community oasis that promotes sustainability and biodiversity’.
‘An Oasis of community allotments focusing on sustainable food and medicine production, education, biodiversity and health.
‘An oasis in the city to connect with nature, to be inspired, learn to grow with others, relax and enjoy life’.
Ingredients: These visions were developed into the style sheets that are pictured on this page and subsequently into the following set of ingredients:
Retail area with a shop, outdoors plant sales area plus a covered greenhouse
Expanded plant nursery
Low impact buildings
An orchard / fruit growing area
A woodland area / forest garden
A café and bar
Workshops for small craft businesses such as pottery
Allotments, training plot, sq meter plots
A performance area, covered
Space for composting and material recycling
A large pond
Medical plants area
Community notice board
Plans: The workshop produced three plans for the site modelled in Plasticine and other materials. Each of these included most of the ingredients above and there were some strong common threads to emerge. These have subsequently been discussed in two workshops with staff and the following conclusions have emerged:
1. Two of the three groups retained and expanded the plant nursery in the northern part of the site. This is considered by the staff to be necessary.
2. All of the groups included a much larger shop and outdoor retail area. All three placed this on the Old Birley Street frontage of the car park.
3. Linked to this all three groups moved the main entrance – one to the far southern tip of the site, one next to the bus stop and one just south of the current entrance. This entrance was linked to the shop and a stronger street presence. The planning application plan takes up the latter of these.
4. All three groups substantially expanded the community garden onto the majority of the car park to include many of the elements described above including raised beds, a larger pond and woodland garden.
5. The plans included ‘back-of-house’ facilities on Warwick Street for loading, deliveries, composting etc…
6. The plans all included craft workshops and small retail outlets/cafes. In discussion with staff it has been agreed to include workshop space but not at this stage space that can be let to other businesses. The centre has regular events which include a craft market. The café is also not included in plans at present because the centre is not set up to run this and there is a well-established café directly opposite.
7. All of the plans included allotments. However in discussion with staff it has been decided that it is not possible to include in the plans because it would require most of the site. Instead the plans include a 1m sq. community garden in which people are given a small patch to cultivate based on a model developed in Paris. The centre is also exploring a single model allotment plot that can be used to demonstrate allotment gardening.
8. Performance/events space was part of all of the plans. It is agreed that seasonal events are an important part of the centre’s activities and should be included in the proposals.