University of Portsmouth students transform disused urban space

University of Portsmouth students have breathed new life into a disused urban space through a community partnership involving local youngsters and Portsmouth City Council.

The #IHeartPompey project, led by the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture, saw the Odd Triangle — a neglected area at the end of Guildhall Walk — transformed with the construction of an intricate timber pavilion.

Based on a winning competition design by Master of Architecture students Richard Williams and Joshua Brooks, the structure was assembled by students in the week leading up to its launch on Friday, coinciding with the start of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries’ 2016 Graduate Show.

Young people from the Brook Club in Somerstown have been involved in the project since 2015, taking part in regular workshops with School of Architecture staff to help design the timber structure and make tiles and other clay decorations.

Senior lecturer and architect Guido Robazza said: “This is all about creating a playful and inclusive space where people can socialise and interact. There is abundance of under-used spaces in our cities, and Portsmouth is no exception.

“Encouraging local people to take ownership of these spaces, decide on their use, and take action on shaping their own city can really contribute to making public areas like this different and better places.

“Working with the Brook Club and the city council has been a mutually-rewarding process. Hopefully the Odd Triangle will now become a place with a personality of its own and have a positive impact on the life of students and the local community.”

The project was developed in partnership with Portsmouth City Council, allowing the university to use the Odd Triangle and providing £1,500 in match funding. The council also helped pick the winning design.

Councillor Steve Wemyss, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I’m really pleased that Portsmouth City Council is working with the university to bring this innovative project to fruition.

“Brook Club members have worked closely with the School of Architecture and have made a carefully considered choice by selecting this unique design as the competition winner.

“The completed piece looks fantastic in situ and really breathes life into this piece of empty land.”

The project was developed in collaboration with the university’s School of Social, Historical, and Literary Studies and School of Engineering, with additional support and materials from Clay Station ceramics studio, Totton Timber, and Jonathan West of the Whitelands Project.

The pavilion is intended to remain in place for six months.