BIRCH GROVE PARK

Group work | RISD/ Brown Desine Lab Young Entrepreneurs Club

 

Rebuilding the POST-INDUSTRIAL/ POST-RECESSION CITY through multi-institutional and intergenerational collaboration

The site is embedded in one of the most dense and problematic areas of the city (drugs, unemployment and crime) and is positioned at the border of two different census block groups with two different median household incomes: $20,771 (Summer) and $33,073 (Garfield). At the same time, the site is close to Central Falls High School, Segue Institute for Learning, Veterans Memorial Elementary School, Jenks Park (the city's historic center), and both the police and fire station.

 Site: Central Falls, RI

Site: Central Falls, RI

 
 

In the summer of 2015, DESINE-Lab began the first stages of UNNU with a design-build effort for RISD and Brown students to transform the tot lot into a public cultural park for all age groups. Early on, public reaction was quite mixed as the lot was known as a hangout for drug dealers and users. The removal of the surrounding chain link fence was particularly alarming. 

A change of sentiment came through the neighborhood children, 15 of whom arrived within the first week to learn more about the project and volunteer their help. Soon, parents, grandparents and other caregivers were offering knowledge and recommendations about how the park had been and could be used. 

Existing Conditions

The existing tot lot was divided into three distinct zones:

The asphalted northwest corner facing the Children's Friend and Services parking lot. This used to have a working sprinkler for the children during the summer months but has been turned off for some time now.

The lower swing set area defined by a wood border and wood chips. Here swings were broken and being jerry-rigged together by children so they could be used.

The upper play equipment defined by a similar wood border and wood chips.

The interstitial space was characterized by a five foot rise of undefined slope with vast dirt patches and dying uncut grass.

The geometric shade structure above the long seating wall is the centerpiece of the park. By bolting together 'L'-shaped metal shelf brackets into a repetitive three-dimensional pattern, the canopy was given both structural strength and the ability to create rich shadow patterns over the course of the day.

A brick walkway and ADA compliant ramp run through the park connecting the street to existing play areas, the central clover field (the children's 'green sea'), the bleacher-like steps leading to the middle terrace (the children's 'sandy beach'), the birch grove beyond and the upper terrace that will soon connect the park to the Community Hall. 

  DESINE Lab   is an applied research lab affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, founded for the purpose of addressing social and economic development issues in under-resourced, post-conflict and post-disaster communities around the world.   We do this through an integration of the thinking, methodologies and outcomes of our various disciplines, and through developing and implementing multiscalar strategies that include skill-building, partnership networks, entrepreneurship training, and the development of institutional models for promoting new design business ventures. 

DESINE Lab

is an applied research lab affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, founded for the purpose of addressing social and economic development issues in under-resourced, post-conflict and post-disaster communities around the world. 

We do this through an integration of the thinking, methodologies and outcomes of our various disciplines, and through developing and implementing multiscalar strategies that include skill-building, partnership networks, entrepreneurship training, and the development of institutional models for promoting new design business ventures. 

Summer 2015

Professor Elizabeth Dean Hermann