Research Plus Design
Union Corner is a grass roots based community project.The project is characterized by a high level of local participation of area residents and local businesses. The project was initially “crowd funded” financially and has also gained massive support in terms of time and materials and knowledge from local building construction businesses. Research + Design appointment spanned all the way from involvement with initial social media and local press engagement through to the design and the physical construction process.
Union street is currently a boarded up and run down area. The proposed facade that surrounds the building and the garden envisages all of these boarded up buildings opening up and becoming inhabited with nature and people.Facade panels that initially give the proposal a boarded up and closed appearance, open in the morning to create places to sit and talk. In this way the space between the private space of the garden and the public space of the pavement is reclaimed by the local residents.
Hand crafted metal, timber and canvas elements produced by local artists and fabricated by craftspeople are fixed into a low cost backdrop of prefabricated industrial cladding that wraps around the garden and becomes part of the main facade.These new openings to the street are crafted elements produced by local artists. The new openings in the construction admit light, air and people into the the centre – everytime a visitor walks through a door or opens a window they come in direct contact and touch these handcrafted elements and become more aware of these natural materials. They sense the care, thought and craft of the local people that made them.
The multi use space has a double facade consisting of 1) an internal fixed glazed facade that will have images projected onto it for announcing current events. 2) an external rainscreen facade that opens during the day to provide a place to sit under a canopy and as well a stage for the annual street party. Small peepholes are located around the facade for children to peep through to the garden – sometimes they can look through other times a mirror is placed inside and they see themselves.
The main garden is accessed on the corner of the site under an existing street light. Structural grass mesh with edging in Plymouth limestone chippings provides a surface that is natural and brings nature into the space and provides a permeable yet wheel chair accessible surface for local residents. The back garden will be decked and the focus is on water and light. Existing rainwater downpipes will be replaced with hand made waterchains that provide a waterfall sound when in use and recycle the water to plants. Water features will be explored by the gardening club. The project gained planning approval November 2015 and is moving toeards construction.