A group of students have come up with a winning proposal for a pop-up project competition called the ‘5 Corners’ pocket park, which contains interactive structures that encourage learning, socialising and play for a disused lot in North Hartford.
A team of five University of Hartford Master of Architecture (MArch) students recently won the Dream Green, Hartford EcoDesign competition sponsored by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation and hosted by the City of Hartford Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The competition requested proposals to improve the city through “pop-up” projects that transform underused city spaces while highlighting green infrastructure and sustainable design.
The 5 Corners site in North Hartford is adjacent to the Swift Factory, which is currently being redeveloped by Community Solutions to bring jobs back to the neighbourhood. However, even with the new construction, limited site modifications are planned for the corner lot, except for a bio-swale along the north side of the site and adjacent to the factory building. The MArch team’s design seeks to enhance the notion of “Live, Work, Play” in the neighbourhood by formally developing the corner site into a social and recreational hub for the community.
The 5 Corners Park will provide numerous activities in the predominately residential neighbourhood while educating residents about the advances in the city’s green infrastructure, including the onsite bio-swale. Using mostly salvaged and donated materials, neighbourhood volunteers will help construct an information kiosk, community garden raised planters, a play structure and a reading bench complete with a small community lending library. The design team plans to engage community groups in the coming year to optimise the park’s interactive content to meet the needs of the neighbourhood residents of all ages.
To implement the design, the graduate students along with the Architecture Department’s student-led Freedom by Design chapter will engage community members through a series of community charrettes to further develop the design and through volunteer construction workshop days. The city will contribute funds toward the construction of the park, and the Freedom by Design group will seek additional construction funding through various grants.
The winning student-design team members are second-year MArch students Nabila Ahmed, Brian Gonzalez, Alexis Hoff, Katie Scanlon, and Patrick Spichal. Their project was generated as part of a graduate design studio course. The four-week studio project provided an opportunity for graduate students to explore working in an integrative design team using iterative and analytical design methods based on site-based observations and real-world design requirements.