H'Art Park, Winters, California : A new public space
I was asked to offer some technical advice on a project for an underused site in a busy downtown shopping street in Winters, a small city in Northern California.
Currently a vest pocket park with no focus and no clear way in and no way out, it was clear that opening the site up, creating a permeable space in a long row of shops to create a focus for community activity would ensure that the site wasn’t just filled in with another developer-led minimart project.
The sense of community in Winters is strong with regular public mural projects, carnivals, fairs, art shows and a strong core of activism against reactionary politics and it was clear that a community -led project , one where a framework for community activity rather than a city funded or developer project would ensure its success, so I suggested that a proposal in the manner of a shaker barn-building project could provide a frame work for multiple use that would help stimulate discourse and engage people so that ideas could be incorporated as the project developed.
Ideas suggested included indigenous planting, shading devices, a 40m long mural, pop-up restaurants and markets, a performance space, a living wall of herbs for anyone to use and a public watering point following the theme of nature as a human right.
The discussion boards helped form a framework proposal currently being considered by the city council