Flexibility of Use

Ideas contributed evoking a wide range of different uses and the need for there to be flexibility

In an area like this, everything should have more than one use and work for lots of different people with different needs. The area needs to work during the day and at night. It needs to work in the winter as well as it works in the summer.

Bringing the Open Brief to life. In the future, what are people doing?

Someone is reading a book in peace in a sunny and sheltered spot near the court. Around lunchtime a street artist turns up with a guitar and people gather around and eat. Later the same day, 500 people come together to hear a band or watch a play. #GatheringPlace

Children use benches and other sitting places for play, for crawling under, climbing upon, hiding behind, peeking around. #GatheringPlace #GatheringPlayfully

People navigate a change in level by ramps and steps, the steps become places to perch. #GatheringPlace

In the summer, people flock and sit and bask in the sun. In the winter, shelter from the wind means that when it is cold but sunny, it is possible to sit out and enjoy. #GatheringPlace

Flexibility of Use: Design Challenges

  • Spaces should be designed to allow for flexibility of use. There should be built in, tiered seating that can be used formally for performances and for causally sitting and spending time. This could be stepped paving, but should be arranged to give views of an area which could be used for performance, and in addition should be directed to make use of the views in the area.

The spaces should enable:-

  • Small activities without people feeling lost or drowned in space – for example a school group having a picnic.
  • Medium size community performances (100-200 people)
  • Large scales activities such as a performances such as Mystery Plays (500+)
  • Design of spaces and enclosure should encourage use all year round, by providing shelter from wind and rain and places to enjoy sunshine in winter but also shade in summer. This needs to be robust and easy to maintain.
  • Spaces and finishes should be designed to allow different activities at different times of day and of the year. For example the court restricts some daytime activities, but not night-time.
  • A space that can be purposed as a stage needs to be built in. This should be able to be used for lots of different uses and just needs to have flat and non-slippery surface. A back to the stage might be useful to help with acoustics or it might be that space for a temporary back to the stage to be easily installed and reinstalled is designed in.
  • The question of shelter and of possible cover of the tiered seating needs careful consideration. A reference point is Bath Spa Ampitheatre which creates a stage, has built in seating and can be covered as well.  You can see a range of images here. 
  • Lighting and sound need to be considered. There need to be multiple sockets that are easy to make available (and don’t cost to use). The power supply needs to cope with large demand for more complex performances.
  • A Green Room /backstage facilities need to be repurposed from spaces used for other things at other times (e.g. the museum). Toilets need to be able to be designated for performances to comply with safeguarding.