Spacemakers, Hartcliffe

Bristol, bs13

Spacemakers Project, based in the Hartcliffe area of Bristol, is a park that was the result of a youth project in Bristol by project manager Mark Rooney (with help of youth workers, Withywood Community School and teenagers aged between 13 and 16.

Spacemakers, bristol

Spacemakers, Hartcliffe, Bristol, BS13. A space designed for all.

An educational project, initiated by the Architecture Centre in Bristol, developed into a hugely successful redevelopment of a run-down public area in the Hartcliffe area of Bristol - known as one of the most deprived areas of the city.

The project started with an educational trip to the Trafford Hall in Manchester, amongst other trips to Glasgow, London and the Eden project in Cornwall. Subsequent to this, it became apparent that something bigger was on the horizon, with the public open space Wilmott Park in the Hartcliffe area of Bristol earmarked by the youths as the chosen space to redevelop.

Over a short period of time, the young people worked with various adults to design and implement a new space in the community. 

This project and group are now represented by a section within Wilmott Park in Hartcliffe, called Spacemakers.

Since June 2022, Shane Richardson, one of the original Young People was inspired to get the space back to its "former glory". His two children questions why the space looked run down, and this was enough to start the dad jokes and puns being shared with the whole community. The knock on affect to this has been staggering, with so much support and even a Lord Mayors award within 12 months of process starting. 

Spacemakers Opening Day - Wilmott Park - Central Area 2014
About Spacemakers

Spacemakers was initially about educating young children, however, soon after its first steps - there was a realisation of the potential to develop a public open space in the Hartcliffe area of Bristol.

Mark Rooney (Project Manager), Mike Snow & Clare Warren (Withywood School Mentors), Paul Spatchurst (Youth Worker) and Kathrin Böhm (Project Artist) were the initial leads for the project - the latter of which left before project completion - who were joined later by Landscape Architect Greg White of Loci Design later in the project.

Starting with the educational element of the project, the group encountered various trips to some very key places including Manchester, Glasgow, Westonbirt Arboretum, the Eden Project, London and the Netherlands - which included visiting various spaces and even the Anne Frank Muesum and an Amsterdam Boat Tour. Whilst on these trips, the young people were tasked with looking around the local areas, finding inspiration of what they liked about the particular spaces - and what they didn't like so much.

Once all the educational aspects of the project were complete, it was time to select a space, and find a Landscape Architect - which through a process that started as 10 spaces & 10 candidates architects, ended with a vote on the space, and a shortlist of 3 candidates for the Landscape Architect who were interviewed.

Having met Greg at Royston Road Park, Glasgow the young people had a dream of working with him. So unanimously, he we chosen to represent them and design their chosen space. See below the image of the young people pointing to the Spacemakers park.

Selecting our space - Spacemakers, Wilmott Park

The adults used all information & experiences from the trips as key information when discussing with Greg White regarding ideas - with the main focuses including;

The range of people the space was designed for - in this instance it was designed as a space for ALL.

The type of features in the park.

Types of materials & features used throughout the park.

How the features were arranged in the space.

How the space was cared for.

The size and location of the public space within a local community.

The project spanned a two-year period and, at inception, involved 16 children ages 13/14 years old. 16, which later reduced to 10, young people were chosen from a range of backgrounds within the Hartcliffe and Withywood local community - all of which were from Withywood Community School (replaced by Merchants Academy in September 2008), which is now represented by a section within Wilmott Park in Hartcliffe, called Spacemakers.

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Young Spacemakers at the opening in November 2004
Spacemakers revamp - 2022 onwards
June 2022 - Almost 18 years since Spacemaker opening day, one of the original Spacemakers young people (now 33) was taking his two children to Spacemakers Park on a regular basis. Shane Richardson, 33, said that "taking my children to the park was meant to be a proud moment, however both my children (who are 6 & 8 years old) were saying it wasn’t very tidy. There was always too much litter, and the grass was too long. They loved the slide though."

Dubbed the biggest lone slide in Bristol when it was built. They asked why him why can’t he just sort it! Shane then started taking photos, made a Facebook and Instagram page – and made some puns which got a lot of attention. Some posts amassing just short of 5,000 impressions on Facebook. Check out our Facebook & Instagram pages for some PUNderful content.

Since these posts started getting attention, Shane has managed to speak to some hugely important and influential individuals, including reconnecting with Spacemakers Project Manager, Mark Rooney; Labour Councillor, Kerry Bailes and various contacts from Bristol City Council including Steve Clampin, Tom Penn & Hayley Swift amongst others.

In addition, he has spoken with Karen (Morrisons, Hartcliffe, Community Champion), Jan & Hayley from Millennium Green and Simon from the BMX Park at the bottom of Wilmott Park. With discussions currently ongoing at the moment, working with such individuals will only work in the spaces favour. 

Below are some of the photos taken in June 2022 - which got the attention of the local councillors, council workers and other likeminded people.