Wenlock Barn Estate

FreeSpace concept 2008 – current

FreeSpace has its roots in ideas of land use and access, about collectively exploring the workings of a space. In its context of the Wenlock Barn Estate it is a response to the presence of large pieces of grass that are entirely surrounded by railings. These fenced-in-natures, that are accessed occasionally, only used by few, with obscured understandings of what to ‘do’ within them. Places where one feels restricted and observed whilst being in the open.

FreeSpace projects have used these spots between the buildings as a starting point to converse and construct new meanings for these spaces. Creating through collective design, construction and learning, places of occupancy. Occupancy not just of gardens, the form that they present, but of spaces of collective and public acceptance. Places to create shared and new memories of spaces. Places constructed by the hands. FreeSpace has involved long-term projects and short term interruptions throughout the Wenlock Barn Estate.

Since conception FreeSpace ideas have been cultivated through the estate spreading amongst the blocks of Napier court, Catherwood Court and Wenlock Court. The projects began with the Growing Kitchen garden. This project, the catalyst to the ones that followed, took as its impetus idea that the kitchen as the heart of the home, could be the heart of the community.

The garden is a space for creative expression, listening and action. It is a contemporary dialogue between architecture, ecology and landscape. The success of this project has since led to the planting of a foraging garden, herb garden and most recently an orchard on the Estate.

These FreeSpace projects have investigated the potential of working long term within a specific community in order to show the quality of change that is directed from the micro level. The spaces themselves becoming not only beautiful and peaceful places within the city but functioning as strong points of local governance.

This work has enriched our ideas as much as it has shaped new public spaces with public creation. It is the seat of our research and the depth for our wider practice.

FreeSpace projects have been realised through main funding from the Big Lottery local food fund, Shoreditch Trust and Wenlock Barn Tenants Mangement Organisation.
During 2013 The Growing Kitchen garden and Growing Kitchen Resident Group won awards. Receiving Highly Commended In the Funding awards of the National Lottery Local Food Fund, for impact and diversity and awarded Local Food Heroes for the sustained achievements of the Growing Kitchen Resident Group.