Winning entry to OPUN (the architecture and design center for East Midlands) national competition to design a new square in the town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
Teamed up with Patricia Paegle, we created an innovative proposal showing how the town center could be transformed, starting wider regeneration of the area and contributing to the Council’s strategy of improving the prosperity and shaping the future of the town.
Elements from the design were used by Ashfield District Council to develop a final plan for the new town square. Works were completed in 2013.
Immediate and wider site contexts were analyzed and local communities were involved in the design process through consultations (questionnaires). This was essential to understand the local problems and needs, and informed the design that promote personal well-being and social cohesion.
The proposal divided the square into six integrated zones, creating a sustainable and dynamic urban space, safe, inclusive and with plenty of opportunities to play and interact.
The entrance zone was marked with raised street level, prioritizing and inviting pedestrians. Decluttered meeting and market areas alongside event area allows for flexibility, it can adapt to changing uses and demands, e.g. market stalls could give way to performance space. The recreation area at the top/bottom of the main street works as a biodiversity zone. Cultural spaces link them with library and shopping center.
The design proposed new, robust and integrated street furniture, water feature, plenty of seating spaces to attract people and allowing for social engagement. The industrial, mining history of the town, as well as its sport traditions (with cricket player Harold Larwood), were embedded into the design through the choice of materials and shapes.
Existing trees were to be kept, new trees (Alnus glutinosa, Castanea sativa, Platanus x hispanica, Tilia cordata, and Ulmus glabra) to provide shade, improve microclimate and create pleasant environment for seating and spending time outdoors. Rain garden planting was proposed with a green hub area between Low Moor Road and Ellis Street, to enhance biodiversity and introduce the wildlife to the site.
The design provides sensory stimulation. Peaceful and relaxing thanks to the soothing sound of water (hearing), trees and plants (smell, sight, touch). Exciting and playful thorough tactile elements in sculptures and furniture elements (sight, touch, balance).
Water, waves, and flow were important aspects for us in putting our ideas together, and we spent a lot of time researching, designing and selecting suitable materials.
A curved pattern on the pavement imitates the water flow and influences the movement of people around the site. Inspired and enhanced by the SuDS principles, the line is, in fact, the surface rill, with pick point in the central square. The rill collects rainwater run-off and directs it into the rain garden located at the junction between the Low Moor Street and Ellis Street or to underground storage.
The regeneration plays an important part in creating a sustainable and attractive town. This public space, if delivered, would make Kirkby more attractive and accessible to visitors. It would positively enhance the economic viability of the town, as well as revitalize the market encouraging independent businesses.