Mount Place makeover options
Posted - November 02, 2009
Ideas from Oxford Brookes University
Jericho has few enough places to sit and think, so it is a shame that one of the most accessible spaces is so under used. Mount Place should be a good place to relax and chat, but in practice few people linger. Most just see it as somewhere to walk past en route to the bridge over the canal. At times too it has been a quiet location for drug dealing.
To see what we might do about this the Council asked the architecture department at Oxford Brookes University if students would like to give some ideas. The students, all in their first year, seized on this with some gusto.
For each proposal, students prepared an impressionistic collage. Above the ‘arboretum’ with cross-benches. Below ‘crescentic gardens’ with contouring. Some of the others are shown at the end of this article.
Each started with a notional budget of £10,000 and between them came up with 18 scenarios which they presented at the September Area Committee meeting in St Barnabas School. The students picked up on different aspects of the site – the sights, for example, the sounds or the smells.They all of course wanted to retain the trees; indeed one envisaged new wooden bench seating and aimed to convert the area into an ‘arboretum’.
Another, the ‘bird house’, offered places for birds to nest. One, inspired by local window boxes, considered creating wooden ‘public window boxes’ where local residents might plant their own flowers. A number of students suggested that the area could be contoured or terraced so as to offer different levels for seating. A drinking fountain might be useful for passing joggers.
They also suggested removing the wall to open the area up to the canal. More radical proposals included mounting chiming pipes into the ground, or having a sheet of water coming down the side of Whitworth Place, or a series of elevated panels fluttering across the site, or a green line painted on roads winding through Jericho to Mount Place.
On the 30th of October these ideas were followed up by a group of a dozen or so residents meeting with local councillors and a council officer. One of the issues, for example, was whether residents really would use the area for planting. Would anyone be interested in this?
Many people liked the idea of opening the square to the canal, though there would probably still have to be some kind of fence. They also wanted to encourage the ‘dawn chorus’, which might include nightingales.
Some residents supported the idea of some kind of uplighting mounted in the trees. People were also enthusiastic about having more benches, particularly if these could look down on Canal Street, with perhaps an information board about Jericho mounted on a nearby wall. Given that funds are limited, any changes will happen gradually – and all will be subject to extensive consultation. Council architects are now considering which of the suggestions might be pursued.