Build Up Hackney is bringing young people together to design a new communal space at Flanders Way. The project aims to challenge negative stereotypes of youth and give the age group genuine power over changing the landscape of their local community.

Liz Redbourne, Principal Landscape Architect at LUC, shares how the award-winning environmental consultancy has been getting involved.

I was pleased to be invited to help out with the Build Up Hackney project earlier this month. A team of young people from Berger Primary School, Cardinal Pole Secondary School and Hackney Quest have assembled as part of a 6 month out-of-school project to transform some local green space at Flanders Way.

The project is made possible thanks to crowd-funding by local people, Wick Award (a local community development organisation run by local residents) and the Mayor of London. Build Up is a specialist youth construction charity that puts young people in control of construction projects that make a lasting contribution to their local community. It gives young people the opportunity to make decisions, influence their local area and see the real-life impact they can have.

The young people at Flanders Way are charged with mapping and analysing their local greenspace, preparing designs and presenting the proposals for approval to Hackney Borough Council, before finally implementing their ideas through the summer holidays ahead of a public opening in Autumn 2019.

I joined the young people in half term at the beginning of their design phase of work: ‘Design Week’. Together with Harry, the local Hackney Tree Officer, we attended their workshop to help the group understand the value trees can bring to a site along with the considerations in terms of proposing structures within the root protection areas of trees. After surveying the root areas on site, the group went back to the classroom to produce scale drawings of the RPAs, before working on models to create ideas that would maximise the protection of trees on site whilst creating enjoyable greenspace for passers-by.



As a practicing landscape architect, it was great to see the imagination of young people when it comes to understanding site constraints and being able to think laterally to create opportunities from what can first be perceived as a problem – if you’re worried about loading on the roots, why not build a swing?!

Daniel, one of the group’s college-age volunteers reflected on the project, “Build Up Hackney has showed me that there are people out there that understand the importance of community and want positive change just as much as the people going through the change, the young people….

I’ve learnt a lot working closely with the young kids from Cardinal Pole and Berger Primary School, especially during Design Week. I feel like Design Week allowed the young people to open up more and flourish, sharing their bright ideas and aspirations for their local area. The kids all put forth very creative and unique ideas for the space on Flanders Way, which were seen by the likes of some officers from the Hackney Council.

I think everyone was surprised as to how confident the young people became as the week progressed. Growth, confidence, determination and ambition are all the things I now see in the young people, yet so early into the project. I hope that, as we move forward with the project, the young people will feel more comfortable to share their ideas and believe in their power to make change possible in their local area.”

At LUC, we work to design and build public parks and playgrounds of all scales across London. It was an inspirational day out to share my passion for improving local green spaces for public benefit and exchange ideas with an enthusiastic group of young Londoners. I look forward to seeing the finished site by Autumn!

Find out more about Build Up Hackney here.