So it begins!
It’s rather hard to believe that in just a few months, this vacant lot will be transformed into a vibrant, learning and growing space for all . This semester’s Studio V is proud and excited to be a part of a project that has the potential of cultivating, invigorating and teaching the citizens of West Ashley and beyond.
Last Friday, Studio V Team members Rachel Gamble, Arif Javed, Beejay Taylor, Cui Yiwen and I (Haley Fitzpatrick) embarked on our first site visit to meet up with Charleston Parks Conservancy representative Jim Martin to discuss the needs, parameters and goals of the community garden and gathering pavilion. We have quickly realized the challenge that awaits us of fusing great design with the requests of the Parks Conservancy in a 3 month time-frame with a $7,000 budget.
Additionally, we visited past Studio V projects (the Corinne Jones Playground and the Elliotborough Garden) to gain a better grasp of the size, scale and expectations of what our project will entail. Interesting details such as the playground shelter’s twisted steel louvers and the garden’s perforated metal steps sparked thoughts of inspiration.
As of yesterday, we made our site digital. Field measurements have been drawn up in a CAD and now it’s time for site analysis and programming. Interesting existing conditions include a concrete pad on the northwestern side of the site, making for an appropriate place to start thinking about parking. We also began analyzing the approach to our site…Where would drivers and pedestrians first notice our future pavilion? Strategic planning for visual direction is crucial, as to bring the most awareness to our community garden. It is also imperative that we create a balance between exposure to the street and a safe buffer between our structures and the busy Magnolia Road.
To better understand the surrounding culture of West Ashley, Studio V decided to head to Al Di La, a wonderful Italian restaurant in the hoppin’ downtown strip. It became clear that the community has established itself as a gastronomically distinct area of Charleston. Pockets of neighborhoods act as a buffer between this cultural district and the more sprawling shopping areas farther northwest. This further underscores the town’s eclectic mixture of residents, and more importantly, users of our community garden complex. It will be our task in the next week to figure out who we are truly designing for and how we can best address their needs and aspirations.