Community Garden

The V&A Dundee Community Garden project is
an innovative example of creative co-design that’s been involving the local community
in a piece of design work that will ultimately benefit their overall wellbeing. One of the first things that the co-design
team did was visit the site and record their initial responses to it, both through photography
and through sketching. At the start of this project the concept was
‘the people’s potting shed for a creative city’. So, we were thinking, ‘Well, what
do you do in a potting shed?’ It’s a place you go to escape. You dream
in a potting shed, you relax, you might read a newspaper, have a cup of tea, pot your plants. So, taking that dream aspiration forward,
it was really important for our co-designers to realise their dreams within this garden,
and we as designers were giving them the tools to unlock those dreams. This shape would catch the rain, and take
it down the chain. The amount of stuff, the amount of materials
that everybody had put in. Everybody put their whole heart in, everybody put something into
it. It was about all of us coming together, and
coming up with the completed garden. And to be involved with all of that, it’s
going to stick in my head for the rest of my life. So, thank you. I think that being able to design something
that is so much a part of what’s going on in Dundee, it’s given the participants a
huge sense of ownership of what’s been going on. And it’s something that they can talk about
with their family and friends, and share with a much wider audience. I think from a design point of view, the aim
of projects like this is to break down the barriers people might have with the idea of
design. The benefits to design, for including people
in the process, is obviously I think it’s a stronger design. It’s more genuine, it’s
more honest, and if people are involved in the process – people that maybe aren’t
usually working in that field – they can glean a certain understanding of what it’s
about, and share that knowledge. ‘Funusual’ is a better word, but it’s
not a real word. Funusual? It’s not a real word, I know it’s not,
but combining ‘fun’ and ‘unusual’. Something that’s funusual! Over the course of the project, I’ve seen
people gain a tremendous amount of confidence in their own abilities by contributing ideas,
sharing their skills and their experiences. This project has shown that design is an incredibly
inclusive subject. Everyone can be a designer, everyone can be creative, and it’s through
those first steps that people can start to shape – and ultimately change – their
own environment. For people living with a range of different
health and wellbeing issues, gardening is a great example of a way that gets people
outside, it gets people active, social and engaged in their local community. It’s going to be a really exciting public
space, directly adjacent to V&A Dundee itself, which we will use for community workshops,
design activities, but ultimately it’s a space where all members of the public can
come and enjoy and experience co-design.

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