In 2009, Landscape and Garden Design students from Writtle School of Design worked with the Residents of Highwood Village on designs for their new technologically advanced Community Centre and gardens.
A community consultation with representatives of Highwood Community Group presented their vision for the future and students responded with inspirational designs derived for community needs and from theories explored in classroom sessions.
Five teams of students presented their work to the community which has contributed to the successful securing of funds to build the Centre and gardens. The building and gardens near completion and the community will be celebrating with a Grand Opening and fete on Saturday 16th July.
Student, Emma Slinger recognised that working with a real site and clients “gives more depth, more meaning from which to form a design. We don't have to imagine who our client would be… This makes it priceless in terms of experience, to be able to talk to the clients, attend their meetings and realise what goes on in projects like this.”
Highwood Committee member Petra Pipkin thanked Writtle staff Steve Terry and Tim Waterman and the students "for making the project an important part of the syllabus". She went on to say. "We are so very encouraged and delighted to see the phenomenal amount undertaken. We are incredibly fortunate to work with you.”
Info on Highwood village hall
The Eco Social Centre in Highwood, near Chelmsford, has nearly 80 solar panels which will provide 80% of its electricity and 60% of its heating.
It also features toilet cubicles made from old drinks bottles and car park blocks made from recycled plastic. It is hoped that up to five tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved a year.
The garden, designed by Writtle College students includes recycled materials and a mini-orchard with native Essex fruit trees.
The village has been without a hall since the previous one was forced to close in 2001.
The local parish council has spent the past seven years raising the £450,000 needed to design and build a replacement.
It has received grants from organisations including EDF Energy, the government's Low Carbon Buildings Programme, the Big Lottery Fund and Biffa.