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Construction work starts on community garden project

Construction work has started on a major community garden design project to transform part of Dundee’s waterfront.

Over the past year, people living with – and recovering from – a range of health and wellbeing issues have designed the V&A Dundee Community Garden.

The project highlights how the design process can support wellbeing and will result in a social space everyone can enjoy. It has been supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Working with professional designers, 20 members of the public have produced plans for a garden that will act as an extension to the first design museum to be built in the UK outside London.

A recent groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of the construction stage. Over the coming months, the 10m x 10m plot within Slessor Gardens – just yards from V&A Dundee on the edge of the Tay – will be totally transformed.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, community participant Dennis said: “It’s been really brilliant, we have visited lots of places and it has been fantastic.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how it will turn out, I’m really pleased with the design.

“I think lots of people will use the garden and it will benefit a lot of people, especially those who are on their own.”

Derek, another participant, said: “One of the first things we did was make miniature gardens with each person coming up with a model of the garden. I’ve really enjoyed coming up with ideas for the design.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have awarded £825,000 to V&A Dundee to engage communities across Scotland with design work since 2014.

“We are delighted that as a result of funding from players that this community garden project has been developed, creating a space that can be enjoyed by everyone.”

As part of the co-design process, community participants visited allotments, took a trip to Dundee Botanic Gardens and sketched designs in two and three dimensions.

The workshops, developed and delivered by design studio kennedytwaddle and design engagement specialist Linsey McIntosh, helped those taking part learn about different plants and understand how gardens can encourage people to relax and socialise.

Careys, the subcontractor delivering V&A Dundee’s highly complex curved concrete walls, is supporting the community project by carrying out the construction work.

At the centre of the garden will be a sunken area for people to gather and talk, surrounded by a green ‘living wall’ to provide shelter. Rainwater will be collected by an overhead feature inspired by ferns and at the garden entrance and exit will stand large light features, designed to add an element of fun.

Patrick Duffy, Careys’ Project Manager at V&A Dundee, said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to support the development of such an important social space.

“In conjunction with our ongoing works at the V&A Dundee, we are delighted to give back something to the local area that can be used by all the community to improve health and wellbeing.”

The next stage of the project will see the co-design team and local volunteers fill the garden with a wide range of plants, chosen for their tactile qualities and smell as well as for their visual impact.

Peter Nurick, V&A Dundee’s Communities Producer, said: “Co-design is all about getting communities involved in every stage of the design process. It is really exciting now to have the building work start on the design that came from the people of Dundee.

“As well as creating a public garden the project is all about bringing people together, sharing ideas, speaking up and feeling valued. Everyone can become a designer and the process is a fun activity that can benefit people’s mental health.”

V&A Dundee will be Scotland's first design museum, showcasing the country's rich design heritage and bringing V&A exhibitions to Scotland. The new museum opens in 2018.

Anyone interested in more information about the project can contact Peter on peter.nurick@vandadundee.org or 01382 308486.

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