A simple structure inspires DIY engagement in the community.
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA (UK) - In a corner of Cluny Park between rusty metal goal posts and garishly painted playground equipment stands a small wooden pavilion, of which the birch plywood no-frills construction contrasts with a playful and engaging interior. Though its proportions might be humble, the designers’ approach isn’t in the least. The Cluny Summer Pavilion was developed through the initiative 'We ♥ the Suburbs', which grew out of the mutual interest of Sarah Considine and Melanie Bax in both celebrating local culture and dispelling misconceptions about suburbia.
Designing for the community seems to be the next best thing. Architecture nowadays is not only about how a building looks, but also about what it engenders (see also the Eurovision article 'Doing it differently, making a difference' in A10 #41). Less funding and red tape forces architects to break down their ivory towers and concern themselves more with public interest. But then again, how can this 'new' kind of architecture appeal to such a diverse group of people, which communities actually are?
'Get them involved in the building process', is what Considine and Bax must have thought. Heading a team of volunteers, including local young people, they constructed the pavilion in just five days. The pavilion's flat pack-like construction allows for the structure to be erected, demounted and re-used by a team of non-skilled volunteers. Although a comparison with a piece of IKEA furniture is a bit too derogatory, the pavilion nevertheless has a similar quality that makes it easily accessible to all. (Kim Hoefnagels)
Cluny Summer Pavilion forms the new centre point to a suburban community in Southend-on-Sea. This temporary, demountable timber structure has hosted a series of community events conceived and organised by local people. The pavilion signals the conclusion of a two year period of local engagement and community integration by Sarah Considine and Melanie Bax through the research initiative and registered charity 'We ♥ the Suburbs'.
The pavilion occupies a corner of Cluny Park, the central green space to Cluny housing estate. The simplicity of its forms allows for flexibility of use – acting as shelter, informal stage, casual café vending point, park bench and climbing frame. Its birch plywood 'post and plane' construction with repeating slatted panels, from some angles allows privacy and seclusion for its users, while from others is open, permeable and importantly surveyable in this park location. The external form is modest, responding to its no-frills park location, while internally it is playful and engaging with its uniquely undulating ceiling.
The pavilion is hosting a series of community events conceived and organised by local organisations, notably Connexions Integrated Youth Support Service, SLYCC and local residents. This year's events reflect the community desire to provide meaningful activities to occupy young people over the summer weeks – ranging from street dance workshops to bringing Southend beach to the estate, complete with donkey rides.
Monday | 26 September | 2011 | United Kingdom | We Heart the Suburbs