At the Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association we’re really keen on sustainability, whether it applies to growing our community through events and activities or growing food and flowers- AKA Carbon Absorbers or Pollinators.
On the Piazza this spring we’ve had several community gardening days and we’d like to thank all our amazing volunteers who have cleared, weeded, planted, mulched, watered and shared ideas. We have been entered into Bristol in Boom 2017 and we will be visited by their area judge on the 19th July, giving us a little incentive to get our planters looking really good.
We’ve also been given a gift by a collective of super talented and world renowned street artists who have created a vision inspired by the local environment.
And more gifts of plants by Piazza friends, John and the Rownham Mead Waterfront Garden team have donated cannas- we still don’t know who planted the incredible poppies!
Water has been an issue this spring with a couple of spells of hot dry weather coinciding with vandalism of our rain water butts. We are keen to sustain the planting on the Piazza with rainwater and have been experimenting with what plants survive and thrive in very dry conditions- seedums, lavender and gladioli seem to like the really dry, hot weather. For us this important as we face the threat of climate change impacts and want to explore how we can adapt.
To find out more, get in touch or come along on for the Peaceful Portway event September 17th 2017 when we will have a community ‘mossing’ workshop by Live Graft, arts activities for children and music, including the Brigstowe Village Band and Gurt Lush Choir
If you’d like to get involved join our piazza mailing list
As the council cuts diminish non-essential services, Bristol communities are considering initiatives such as the Clean Streets Campaign. The Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association have been thinking that there are elements of cleaning that locals probably already do, like clearing leaves in Autumn, snow in winter and making sure our streets are tidy, but other things we can’t do, such as large waste removal, power cleaning and non residential streets.
The Cumberland Piazza is an interesting example of where this kind of approach has been working since 2010, when locals started to make plans for the site. As the Community Association put on consultation events, we needed to risk assess the site, and so we needed to explore how it was managed and build a relationship with Bristol City Council. Here’s what we discovered:
- BCC Highways is responsible for the management and maintenance of the site, as it no longer has ‘park’ status; their priority is 24hr access to the roads above
- They commission BCC Parks to maintain the verges, shrubbery and cut the grass areas and tend to the older trees.
- Waste Services were responsible for the removal of graffiti and ensuring the site was litter-free which they did on a fairly regular basis, but there was frequent vandalism and bins and benches were repeatedly stolen.
Following several community events and surveys, HCCA established that the priorities for the community were to ‘green’ the Piazza and provide more facilities for young people, particularly for sheltered skateboarding. Community volunteers, worked behind the scenes to create plans and designs, develop communications with council departments, fundraise, seek permissions, assess safety and clean out the disused toilets to use as storage (yuk!). We thank the Neighbourhood Partnership for all their support.
We struggled to raise the funds to cover the whole site plan for creating a beautiful, green community space for all ages. HCCA so nearly achieved £120,000 in a Grow Wild bid in partnership with Bristol Zoo’s Wild Place and BCC Conservation Department- we came second! So we decided to change things incrementally, in a community-led, DIY fashion.
Physical developments began in 2014 with the planting of 8 Acer trees, with money raised by the community association through section 106 and private donations, followed in 2015 by our Bristol Wood Recycling Project Planters, the painting of the pillars and our small tarmac’d ‘skatespot’. In 2016 we built a pocket park, consisting of concrete play sculptures designed to form a MUGA and created many more planters.
All this is great, but now the community are responsible for maintaining all the work we have done, without access to water and electricity. This is what we do with the help of our amazing volunteers:
- We have installed a rain water harvesting system
- We hold seasonal gardening days and have several community members weeding, planting and watering as needed throughout the year- our next one is Sunday 5th march 2-4pm. Put on some scruffy clothes and come on down!
- We keep plenty of coloured paints to manage graffiti as soon as possible after it happens- we will soon be coating accessible areas with anti-graffiti paint.
- We arranged for the council to give us some bins, some of which we keep locked up, and we make sure they are emptied regularly
We always welcome more help and ideas, so if you’re not on our Piazza mailing list and want to be kept informed about gardening days, have ideas for improvements, or are able to litter pick or weed please sign up by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We put environmental sustainability and community-led practise at the heart of our work on the Cumberland Piazza and we know sometimes ‘green’ doesn’t always mean tidy, and it’s difficult to always keep things clean when we’re relying on volunteers and we’re certainly not suggesting that volunteers take over services the council ought to be providing.
The Piazza isn’t perfect, but it’s so much greener and more cheery than it was before the community got involved!
It was just about warm enough on a mid-February sunday to plant a new Catalpa and Dogwood shrubs in memory of Ray Smith, who sadly died last spring.
Ray was a force for good in Hotwells and Cliftonwood, involved in running the Hope Centre in its heyday, facilitating (and performing in) the Hotwells Panto, campaigning about issues important to locals and producing the community magazine delivered to 2500 household three times a year from 2003 to 2014.
The Hotwells Panto paid their respects this weekend by providing a new Catalpa tree and Dogwood shrubs, selected by his daughters, to beautify and add to the carbon eaters in the former children’s play park on the piazza.
Over thirty people gathered to watch the tree go in and while Ray might not have appreciated the fuss, he would have been amused to know that although his colleagues at HCCA managed to gather such a crowd at a days notice, they had given no thought to ceremony or speeches. And we had managed to interrupt the Panto dress rehearsal schedule!
Thankfully, we had Gill Loats in all her costumed glory to step in and pronounce! We will have summer do, when the piazza is in full bloom- if you’d like to be kept informed sign up to our piazza list by emailing email@example.com
If it wasn’t for Ray, the piazza would still look as grey as it did pictured above, in 2013. If you would like to see Ray explain what the community desires for this space are, watch this video clip.
What’s next? Well we have some funding to experiment with more greening and planting. We hope to make a living wall outside the disused toilets with hanging (shopping) baskets, climbing plants and mosses; we will lift some of the cracked tiles and see what will grow nicely, we want more planters and more green in the former playground. With more green we can get more surfaces tarmac’d or astroturfed for children and young people to play.
If you fancy joining, in we’ll be doing more planting and painting on Sunday 5th March 2017 2-4pm. Just put on some scruffy clothes and come on down!
We have been thinking a lot about art and climate change and how to adapt urban spaces into ‘climate ready’ community resources. After consulting with the Hotwells & Cliftonwood community in 2010 & 2011 we commissioned a ‘masterplan’ to ‘green’ large areas of the Cumberland Piazza. We used this plan to communicate with the council about what the community would like to achieve, but to dig up the tarmac proved prohibitively expensive, and we have been unable to raise the kind of money we need to do this.
So, we began to take an incremental approach. Local people generously donated funds to match some council Neighbourhood Partnership Well-Being funding for us to plant 8 new trees. Then, we commissioned the Bristol Wood Recycling Project to build us some scaffold planters, which was paid for by money from developers’ contributions. Luckily we have a big pool of volunteers via Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association who helped with assembling and planting.
Volunteers gathered again when it came to painting the the pillars, with Anna designing the colour scheme and organising tests, consultation and painting days. Dave Bain and his team responded amazingly to the spirit of the place and produced a ‘hidden forest’ of murals.
The impact of the painting helped us get a bit more funding from the DCLG Pocket Park scheme, HCCA & Bristol City Council’s Neighbourhood Partnership Wellbeing fund and we have built some sculptures of recycled concrete cast into re-used pallet boxes. Those pallets got turned into more planters and so did the paint pots.
But, there’s still a lot of tarmac left and more plants are needed to combat emissions in a busy in a road system of flyovers. It is becoming harder to access public funding so we’re constantly searching for imaginative solutions. We have developed a new ‘masterplan’ that embraces the DIY approach and puts re-use at the centre of our approach. Please come and have a look at this and all our interventions.
You can help us plant unusable hard hats and draw a ‘living wall’ on 15th & 16th October. We will also be running a ‘green gym’ which is another way of saying, please help us with some gardening and in turn you will get some exercise! Anna Haydock-Wilson, Luise Holder and Amy Hutchings are around at times over the weekend to show and sell prints and sculptures and talk about their work with re-use and regenerating spaces. If you have ideas for more art projects or about stealthily greening cities, come and share and let’s get some collaborations happening!
Details of times and activities:
- 12-5pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th: talk to us about plans for the site
- 12-5pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th: ‘Green Gym’ help us clear the weeds and prepare the planters for the winter months
- 12-4pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th a chance to meet Amy & Luise and buy beautiful prints and ‘ready mades’
- 2-4pm Saturday 15th: Paint and draw plants on our future ‘living wall’
- 2-4pm Sunday 16th: Plant some re-use objects, including hard hats- bring your own old bike helmets!
‘growing more plants might do more to improve our environment than making art about climate change‘
Sylvia Crowe designed the Cumberland Piazza as part of a much bigger landscaped scheme covering all the Ashton and Hotwells flyover. She explored many ideas about play and leisure that were cutting edge in the 1960s. One of the ideas for the Piazza was that people could sit and watch the boats coming in and out of Bristol Harbour. there were so many things she couldn’t have known about that have arisen as major concerns in the intervening years. Although we can still watch the boats come and go from our new pocket park, we often watch through a haze of speeding cars- who knew in the 1960s that traffic levels would quadruple within 50 years?
The priorities for the Piazza since 2010 have been more greening and more community space, especially for younger generations. Since we painted the pillars, built our first planters and created a small smooth spot for skating in 2015, use of the Piazza has doubled.
The pocket park has encouraged more play- the little ones like to play away from the sanitised ‘playpark’ environment, and older kids are enjoying experimenting with the shapes and forms. Skaters are moving some of the structures about the site, and we have had some lovely responses from BMXers, parents and bees. There’s still alot to do. We will make the concrete sculptures smoother and more beautiful, plant more pallets and paint pots and we still hope to move the pocket park under cover for winter.
So, what can we do to both preserve and adapt ideas about children’s play and community space to address the issues of our times, of climate change adaptation and space for communities to express the needs of all ages?
Here are some of our ideas:
- Resurface more spaces and create more facilities for ball and wheels sports
- Create ‘Swales’ where Sylvia Crow’s aggregate tiled ‘sun ray’ pattern sits
- Produce beautiful information boards about the past, present and future
- Host community events and activities, including the Peaceful Portway & the West Bristol Arts Trail, creating stages, market stalls and temporary cafes.
With the support of Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association, working with historians, landscape architects, designers, artists, flood risk specialists and locals, our next steps are:
- To produce a new master plan, embracing the original design, and adapting it to create a ‘climate ready park’
- To understand hydrology of the site and work with the council’s resilience officer
- To explore safe routes to and from the site for cyclists and pedestrians, using ideas from the Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Traffic Strategy
- To develop more creative ideas, helping young people to enjoy outdoor play
- To apply for funding to achieve all this!
We are always looking for more people to come and help, so if you are interested in any of the above, or even just like pulling up a few weeds and doing a bit of watering- don’t forget this is about encouraging more bees and butterflies too- please contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Play sculptures are emerging from the pallet boxes this week and we have decided to name our Pocket Park ‘Concrete Communities’. We feel this plays homage to Dame Sylvia Crowe and 1960’s modernism, but allows us our contemporary re-use and DIY touches. Above all, the title alludes to our strong local community.
So, what is actually going on down at the Cumberland Piazza? All around Bristol Harbour there are so many signs telling the public what they’re not allowed to do, so last week, while Britain voted, Anna, Amy and Dave painted a new mural, intending to welcome people of all ages to enjoy the space in whatever way they choose.
This week our Pocket Park team have been revealing and and turning the members of the ‘Concrete Community’ with the help of a gantry hired from Brandon Tools, one of many amazing local suppliers who have help us, even though they must think we’re bonkers!
Apparently they spent an hour in the office wondering how we were going to carry out our mission, but as usual, Tom and Luke had a plan. And as usual the plan involved lots of head-scratching, this time about axis points and weight shifts, as we shuffled the gantry inch-by inch and scratched our heads again.
And the results? Well, the sculptures need a bit of cementing, a bit of sanding and a lot of moving, with help from our local teens. The painstakingly filled pallets used to brace the moulds and create the Beton Brut effect (to rival London’s South Bank) will be turned into yet more planters to house our rapidly spreading pollinators. Scaffold poles will be added to create a sports pitch structure and a canopy for performance and this ‘Concrete Community’ will be ready to welcome everyone on July 9th as we launch our pocket park!
Photo by Anna Haydock-Wilson and Tom Sale
Poster design by Luke Carnaby
email Anna at Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association to find out more
You may have noticed activity recently in the form of many large ‘boxes’. These are the moulds for our concrete play objects from which we are building our Pocket Park. We would like to share some pictures from the process so far- we hope you enjoy them
13th March, Matt and Luke preparing for community workshop
Trying out the play ideas
Portway Sunday Park play day 25th May
preparing the moulds
Sealing the edges ready for concrete pouring
Last year Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association and Art under the Flyover teamed up with some architecture MA students from UWE to try and imagine how we could increase play and ‘hang-out’ facilities on the Cumberland Piazza. Bristol City Council Highways Department need to use the under flyover space to maintain the roads above which presents quite a few challenges, such as not being able to fix any equipment to the ground or the pillars and we have struggled over the years to come up with a solution for local football loving kids. All they want is a cage, but we can’t provide that, so we applied for Pocket Park funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government to see what we could create.
In late January we heard that we got the funding and a couple of weeks later the council’s Neighbourhood Partnership agreed to support us to run design workshops with young people and incorporate their ideas into the ‘park’. The idea is that they also help us actually build it, in fact, the whole community can help too!
So, what are we planning to build? Inspired by creative ideas from around the globe, and by Canvas Spaces, round the corner in Dowry Square, and of course by the flyover itself, we have decided to make a series of concrete structures, each with their own ‘play’ functions, which will be arranged to form a ‘pitch’. To ensure balls don’t get kicked into the road we are exploring putting poles into each corner of the ‘concretes of joy’ and wrapping a mesh or net around. Can’t picture it? Here’s some early design sketches:
We have been doing some informal workshops with local teenagers, mostly football orientated, because the kids who’ve come along are really into football at the moment. They’ve been trying out different places under cover and telling us about the challenges for them. Our current design team, Anna, Luke, Luke, Tom, Rachel & Matt, are looking closely at how they’re playing and seeing how we can match their aspirations with the constraints we have from the council.
We worked in Puppet Place rehearsal space at the end of February to develop more ideas for the concrete structures using plasticine modelling. Crazy golf football and seats that look like space hoppers were the highlights. In the meantime, Tom, Luke, Luke & Matt have been creating ‘forms’ at UWE’s Frenchay Campus and are pouring concrete in to test out how to make it work when we do it for real.
We really want to make this work for the whole community, so if you fancy joining in, we have some large as life workshops planned, when we’ll be testing out ramps and using hay bales posing as the finished ‘concretes of joy’. Come down to the Cumberland Piazza on 13th March 1-5pm, or follow us on facebook to find out how we got on.
We will also be inviting everyone to come and help our teenagers to build some of the form work and ‘reveal’ the Pocket Park once it has ‘set’. We think concrete is beautiful (see pic above), but it can have a negative environmental impact, so we will be using ‘rubbish’ inside, recycled aggregates within the mix, re-used objects to create our forms and we’ll be making lots and lots of small new planters from pallets as part of our park.
2015 has been a year of colour under the flyover -so much of the work HCCA has done to secure funding and permissions finally came to fruition.
In March we began testing colours for the pillars, preparing a ‘canvas’ for a mural by Dave Bain. We had been keen to explore a tonal range and and Anna had been playing with ideas for a long while. When Dave refused to begin a mural design until the pillars were done a trip to Hartcliffe B & Q was the only solution. Armed with 21 tester pots, a few brushes and a 5 year old, Anna dotted squares on pillars and left them for locals to complain- no-one did!
Ray Smith worked with the Landmark Practice to design the planters. Bristol Wood Recycling Project cut the scaffold planks and they were built and filled by committed local gardening volunteers. Bristol Zoo’s Wild Place project was hoping to provide us with native plants from their seedlings, but it hadn’t been a great winter for growing, so they raided Blaise estate nursery for the council rejects and delivered a striking variety of flora, including a very non-native banana plant. The nasturtiums are still flowering!
The pillar painting began in earnest at the last weekend of April with about 30 volunteers turning up. It took until mid August to paint them all, well as far as Anna’s arms and a 5 metre pole could reach- but at least Dave was now happy and produced some beautiful designs and created a magical ‘hidden forest’, with his team, in less than a week. And he braved the heights to reach up to the carriageways!
In July Sharing Communities, the Bristol 2015 Neighbourhood Arts project for our area, collaborated with Young Bristol for an event called Your Place to Play for young people to share ideas about what they wanted to do. 60 people came and joined in the conversations and activities which included BMX demos and tutoring from the amazing Matti Hemmings, a design workshop for a skate park from Canvas Spaces, a newly local business keen to get involved and beautiful floor painting from the DO15 team. People sharing thoughts and ideas for the future of the flyover continued at our Community Celebration Day in September with 30 more people joining us for a walk and drink at the Rose of Denmark.
In October Sharing Communities worked with the Portway Sunday Park team and a group of UWE architecture MA students, Luke Copely-Wilkins, Luke Carnaby, Matthew Smith and Tom Sale, to create The Wayfarers, a moveable bandstand which travelled from the Piazza to the sheer rock face just beyond the old funicular railway. The journey down the car-free Portway was led by the shocking pink Ambling Band and the recycled structures hosted musicians and local poet, Bob Walton. The acoustics across the Avon Gorge were wonderful!
On the wettest windiest November day the UWE team organised a Cumberland Basin Bonanza, rigging up a temporary sports pitch, adding the pre-cut bench elements to the planters and making more from our growing stash of pallets. Riverside garden centre donated more plants and we discussed yet more ideas.
On December 16th Green Trees contractors tarmac’d our skatespot, designed by local skaters and drafted by Andrew Iles, completing all the works Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association had designed and funded. Without the enormous amount of volunteer hours from locals and Bristol-wide creatives it wouldn’t have been possible!
So, our colourful year has finished and we have new people involved and new ideas to explore for 2016.
- Blue/Green are some of the colours for next year as we aspire to look at flood risk and climate change adaptations to the flyover
- A games area is another priority, designed with and for teenagers. Funds are being applied for and ideas are being drawn up by our talented team of young architects
- We hope for more live arts, collaborations, performances and even a Hotwells Carnival!
Thanks to Trudy Feeney and her team at Bristol City Council Cleansing Dept & Mike Lawlor and Kurt James from BCC Neighbourhood Partnerships for all their support.
This event combines using the Piazza as an art and performance space with the closure of the Portway for a Sunday Park
This project has evolved from Build a Bandstand into a parade of ‘The Wayfarers’These portable stages are being designed and pre-fabricated by UWE Archtiect Students. The audience is invited to watch them being assembled on the Cumberland Piazza from midday and accompanied by The Ambling Band and some busy monkeys as part of the Portway Sunday Park.
The idea of a bandstand was all about the communal performance space offered by bandstands world-wide and we have used this inspire the students, who are creating some splendid structures made from recycled materials, which will then be re-used yet again. The plan is to create vertical gardens on the Cumberland Piazza! Being on the car-free Portway for previous road closures made me aware of the acoustics created by this amazing geological structure we have in our city and how ‘re-purposing’ the Portway as a performance space would be a fantastic thing to do. Luckily the Portway Sunday Park organisers agree and have organised other musicians and a carnival float too.
Cutting car emissions by extending normal Portway closures, even 5 times a year reduces pollution and making structures that have a fun, community purpose and can be turned into planters all add a little more oxygen to our city’s atmosphere.