We worked with Anette from Christ Church on Linnet Lane, to develop a session for our Academy students to design structures and spaces that would open up use of the Church to the wider community. Their aims were to:
Appeal to the wider community of Toxteth, not purely faith-based groups
Provide opportunities for activities and events
Connect visitors and communities with the heritage of the building
Create opportunities to generate income.
The four groups came up with a variety of ideas. From family focused childcare provision, multi-functional craft huts, sport come music venues and spaces to help the vulnerable.
We’ve found that our Academy participants throughly enjoy the challenges and constraints that come with repurposing heritage sites, and this was no exception. Their experience of designing for Lark Lane in a previous workshop gave them first hand experience of the challenges of keeping warm in the huge scale of the church, and the opportunities of allowing people to appreciate its architecture.
Prosocial Place and PLACED delivered a workshop on Saturday 14th December 2019 with a group of young people from the PLACED Academy to explore what approach they would take to improve Lark Lane.
Through the session, we wanted to explore if there were differences in how the males and females in the group approached the project. This feeds into a wider study which Prosocial and PLACED are developing, exploring gender differences in approaches to design in the built environment.
The session included a guided walk through the area, reflecting on their feelings about Lark Lane individually and through discussion and working in groups to develop their ideas through drawing and modelling.
The groups took a variety of approaches to respond to Lark Lane, including green routes, pedestrianised roads, community centres and better car parking.
Our analysis in brief is that the female groups were largely more focused on the broader sense of the place, ideas and design concepts both during the site analysis and through the design process. In contrast, the male groups were focused on detail and individual aspects of design. However, there was an awareness of the local community and who uses the area from both males and females in the group, which may have been influenced through our community-focussed PLACED workshops throughout the Academy programme.
Many thanks to Graham and Rhiannon from Prosocial Place for devising and facilitating this session with us.
Having delivered primary school workshops earlier this year for Lister Steps to engage young people in the design on the community room, it was great to be back in the building to see all the progress that’s been made!
Aaron from OMI and Diane from H. H. Smith lead a fantastic tour. They introduced the participants to the building’s history, future, challenges and vision for the future when it sets yo reopen as Lister Step’s community centre in Summer 2020.
After we braved the cold, it was back to Lister Step’s current centre to hear more from Aaron. We learnt more about the types of projects OMI works on, what it’s like being an architect, and how he got there. It was really fantastic to hear about the route that he went through from being a student to now being a professionals architect, and he also dispelled some of the myths around the sector, namely that you have to be amazing at maths!
Then, on to the design project. The group split into teams to design multi-functional furniture and interpretation designs. With Aaron’s advice, they explored how they could use contrast to highlight the difference between new and old, and add an interesting visual dynamic into the building.
A series of individual desks which could be bolted together for group work. It also included a reading nook for young children that could be used while the parent is at the desk
Table tops with historical information under a glass surface so that information could be changed over time. and used to sit different activities
Benches and workspaces in the form of a book which could be folded out and stored neatly
An octagonal table to mirror the entrance foyer with chairs that can fold inside. Also had usb charging points for visitors phones
Bookshelf-come-seating which could be stacked in different ways to suit different numbers of people
Thanks again to OMI, H. H. Smith and Lister Steps for making this session happen. We felt very fortunate to see such a wonderful building being restored with such love and care, and we’re all so excited to be able go back and see it when it’s open!
And lastly, a bug thank you to also our wonderful volunteers Tazeen and Vikki for supporting the session.