The Green Urban Backyard - The Venny Communal Ground.
As a part of Urban Regenerating subject, we visited The Venny as precedent studies last week. I found that this is a very sophisticated example of urban revitalisation project. It helps in "re-green-ing" our earth yet its program also successfully livens the community.
The Venny is a free communal backyard designed for children aged five to 16 years old from the Kensington public housing estate and surrounding areas.
It is one of five staffed adventure playgrounds in Melbourne funded since the 1970s by the federal government, primarily for children with little or no backyard and those in public housing.
The building has been designed to suit the needs of children, carers and staff and includes: Multi-purpose room Kitchen and BBQ facilities Laundry and linen store Office and staff meeting area
• Toilets and shower
• Large storage areas
On the floor of the multi purpose room is a large community art piece made from children's drawings and historical Venny images including paintings, photographs and the architect's plans. Over 100 children have been involved in the creation of the art piece, which is embedded in a layer of clear epoxy resin.
This community art piece was pivotal in the transition from the old building to the new and has enabled children and staff to feel at home in new facility as it echoes the memories of the old place.
The artist's concept
The visual artist was thinking about waterways and tributaries converging when designing the new floor. These tributaries converge in a spiral at the centre of the building and the
spiral also forms a heart.The floor design reflects the colour palate of the shipping containers which form the building's primary structure.
The design encompasses a layering of many elements, including children's art work, photography, words and architectural drawings, all encased within a clear epoxy resin. All of this together forms a large scale, communal artwork, which describes the life of the Venny community both past and present.
The facility has a range of play structures, vegetable garden and to the delight of the children, an old oat, a duck, guinea pigs and chickens.Near the deck are four large raised vegetable garden beds, set at different heights to cater for children of all ages and abilities.
The facility is constructed from five refurbished second-hand 20' shipping containers. The use of recycled materials is an important component of the environmentally sustainable design (ESD) and forms a relationship with the working dock visible from the playground. Each of the containers serves a unique function; cooking, storage; office and a lounge area.
The containers are arranged to form a U shape, creating a large column free multi-purpose activity space. The containers are made from thick steel and can be closed with a roller door when not in use. This reduces the area that staff need to monitor after hours, and along with the front entry roller door, provides a secure building.
The kitchen has been designed for small cooking groups and disabled access and also can be used as a canteen to serve food directly into the room. The office container allows space for staff to work and monitor all areas, providing a safe and secure environment for all.
In the Venny, I realised that if we are serious about sustainability, then, it is necessary that development work increase the Earth's ecological health, resilience and carrying capacity, and protect biodiversity in order to meet even the 'legitimate' demands of existing populations. In other words, to protect our life support system, cities must be redesigned to increase the total ecological base beyond its pre-development condition.
As we can see in The Venny, they make full use of every inch of the land, without creating harm to nature and yet regenerating the healthy environment of integrating the occupant with greens, animals and social experience. As it goes beyond resource to generate surplus eco-services while improving equity, it is generating 'positive' social and ecological offsite impacts, and providing greater access to shared public spaces, spaces for kids interaction, adult's gathering and amenities. Thus, we need to recognise that sustainability is not just about consuming less than we do now.
It is not enough to 'mitigate' the impacts of future development: we need to 'fixigate' the social and ecological problems caused by the existing urban development.
At the end of the day, I wish I would have a chance to spend my childhood in this space where the sense of healthy physically and psychologically is generated.