BCP Future Lab: Bold ideas for a conurbation bursting with potential for a green and prosperous future
|Location:||Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset|
|Team:||Feria Urbanism, Dr Caroline Jackson|
The R³ Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Group was set up during the Covid-19 pandemic to bring together representatives of local businesses and agencies from across Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole. The title of the groups references the need to respond, recover and reimagine (hence R3) and the group has developed as a collaborative voice asking for a vision for a brighter future for the conurbation.
With regard to the need to reimagine, the R3 group specifically reached out to Feria Urbanism because of our reputation and track record for visionary thinking embedded in a robust process. We had previously worked with several members of the R3 group on other projects and were therefore the “go to” team to assist them with this critical work.
In response to this invitation, we gave this project a dedicated brand: BCP Future Lab. This name was designed encourage innovation and a forward-thinking attitude. We worked with a wide range contributors to co-create a design vision for the three town centres of Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole. Our challenge was to reimagine the future of all three town centres as urban spaces that foster social, cultural, and economic prosperity.
“During the darkest of times in the middle of the pandemic, the Feria Urbanism team created an amazing piece of work for our group of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and organisations. The result was a fabulous book and a series of events informed by their extensive engagement with members of the public as the lockdowns lifted, that sets out a vision for re-imagining our town centres. I loved how Feria Urbanism brought their blend of creativity, imagination, and experience to get the best out of everyone they worked which is evident in the book and helped make the events special and memorable. The book is not only something I’m incredibly proud of but is also a useful working document that is helping to inform local plans and decision making. Thank you!”
Chris Shephard, Director of Economic Development, BCP Council
We held 500+ public conversations through a series of meetings, workshops, and street encounters. Working with local schools and universities, we heard from young people with a keen interest in the future of their towns.
Collating and analysing the opinions and ideas from people enabled us to generate a set of five principles that would form the foundations for any design concepts – Ecology, Independence, Culture Drift, Health & Social Prosperity and Playable. With our local research at hand, we applied these principles to design concepts to specific locations across the conurbation. Site specific interpretations of the principles included building a high street orchard in Bournemouth, roof top car park terrace in Poole, and unified shop frontages in Christchurch.
In parallel, working with events expert Dr Caroline Jackson, we also explored introducing programmable events, carnivals, and festivals into the town centres. We suggested concepts that can transform public spaces without the need for physical changes, engaging a wide range of communities and creating new walking routes to different parts of each town.
The findings of the BCP Future Lab project were a series of bold ideas, shaped by shared values, experiences and ideas. These ideas were captured in a book; ‘Future Stories; Tales from the BCP Future Lab’. Supporting our research output, the book features images of the conurbation from a selection of local photographers who offer a different perspective to the town centres.
The eight month project culminated with a book launch and exhibition in the gallery space of Bobby’s of Bournemouth in the town centre. This exhibition created an opportunity for people view the results of our study and further discuss the future of the towns at a series of seminars, talks and events.
With a clear vision for the future, a set of enabling principles, and some specific site intervention suggestions, our book provides the responsible agencies and authorities with a manual to help them deliver changes across all the three town centres.