Hulmeward bound

Every year, the architectural students at Manchester Metropolitan University spend a two week block working on a real world social justice project, and this summer we were one of their (many) options.

And it was a great experience. A team of four postgraduate architecture students – Sally, Hanjun, Reeni and Witushree – led the project, and decided to focus on Hulme Park, not far from the university. After some thought, some trips and some work with a local school, Trinity High, they then led a team of undergraduate students in thinking about what would make the space better for girls.

As part of the process they also spoke to us, and presented some of their initial thoughts to Councillor Ekua Bayunu and Hulme Neighbourhood Officer Pauline Campbell, who talked them through some of the practical constraints which come up in this kind of project.

The students came up with some cracking ideas.

Shareable swings.

Bright shelter which invites you to stay

They thought about how entrances and access might affect how girls use the space too.

But perhaps my favourite thing of all is this – well, thing. It’s very simple but is nonetheless a very clever idea which can be seating, can be for mucking around on and can also just be a way up the hill when it’s muddy.

One of the problems with what’s provided for teenagers currently is that it’s very didactic. The equipment tells you what to do – play football here, skateboard over there. Whereas teenagers – both girls and boys – say that quite often they just want to play. Which is exactly what this lets you do. And it doesn’t look as though it would be very expensive to build either.

We’re really impressed by the end results, and very grateful to the students, the staff and all the people who helped them both at the council and at Trinity High.

If you want to see more of what the group produced, and their process, the entire project blog is here.

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