For our fourth Community Design Event, Eat & Imagine at 289 Derby, our goal was simple: involve everyone in choosing between two design schemes with Placemaking Placemats before enjoying some spontaneous eats on site.
The varied activities people have envisioned for the space, from native permaculture gardens to winter ice-skating, would be possible in either configuration designed by CBA Landscape Architects. The simple distinction between the two plans is that one scheme is straight, and the other curvy. We thought we’d have some debate and close calls about which way to go, so we created “Consensus” placemats at each table. They were unnecessary! At a ratio of 8 to 10, the “curvy” plan was the clear favorite!
There were many reasons for this. The primary factor was that it would be a unique form in Salem and people were attracted to the soft edges. The undulating paved space shows two discrete areas for flexible activities – one in the center of the space surrounded by greenery, and the other closer to the water with amphitheater-like integrated seating and a stage area that can double as a labyrinth for walking meditation during the summer, and even and ice-skating rink in the winter.
The green space is similarly well suited to facilitate the multiple types of green space desired by participants: botanical gardens with plants for pollinators and native species in some areas, and lawn space with shade and seating in other zones.
Together, these discrete elements facilitate layered uses to incorporate a surprising amount of the community suggestions we’ve gathered over the past five weeks of engagement.
Through the “Placemaking Placemats” we all participated in a design charrette. We collected 88 in total! Check out some of the votes on favorite Amenities and Activities – as well corresponding locations!
Design Trivia! The name for a gathering of people under pressure to design together, usually in an academic setting, is called a “Design Charette.” Charette is the French word for cart. Traditionally, fervent design students were said to still be finishing their drawings on the cart (charrette) as it was rolled down the hall to be reviewed.
Now that we have a direction for both form and program, we still have a lot of work to do! Who will be those critical community partners to steward this space in a way that keeps it safe, clean, and inclusive to all?
Creative Salem has compiled a wonderful narrative of the past 4 weeks – take a look and come see the schematic design unveiling with us June 21 at 6pm!