Viking Way Passage

dates: 2013–15
commissioned by: London Borough of Havering
stakeholder group: Royals Youth Centre, National Trust
construction budget: £21K
photography: Inge Clemente
other projects delivered for LB Havering: Rainham Station, greening Romford Ring Road
press: AJ, 17.08.2015
film: Rainham: take me to the river
award: RIBA MacEwen Award 2015 (longlist)

Working with young people from the Royals youth centre a brief was formulated for the space: ‘A pocket park – that brings together the community’ – a place that provides opportunities for sitting, play and to spend time – a space for events and activities linked with the “Royals” and the wider community – a place connected to the village and the marshes with new planting, greenery and a ‘softer’ finishes.

The existing space with it’s installation ‘Railings Hall’ by Mark Pimlott, has been adjusted, with a small budget, to create greater green areas with more trees, planting, benches and a stage. The existing perimeter fence has been replaced by a new timber screen with integrated seating that provides a new backdrop and a surface for interpretive and place-making text referring to the species planted in the square and the people who helped create the space.

what if projects developed the design in response to this brief. Key to the project was making it a space that offered ownership to the local community. This has been nurtured through its implementation. The project engaged painting and decorating trainees from Havering College; Friends of Rainham Hall and National Trust gardeners in developing a planting pallet and planting trees and plants; and through continued hands on help from the Royals and their staff.