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.
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.
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.
Professor Elizabeth Dean Hermann