Vision Of Playful Wimbledon Wins Design Contest

Town centre could become games paradise

A vision of Wimbledon which imagines the town centre transformed with escalators, giant slides, open air theatres and interactive games has won the Future Wimbledon Ideas Contest.

Pablo Sendra Fernandez's entry, Play Wimbledon, is inspired by how Aldo van Eyck's transformed post-war Amsterdam by building playgrounds in bombed sites, empty plots and squeezed between tower blocks.

Pablo Fernandez, of Seville-based architects Lugadero, takes this idea and proposes a series of devices including a big dome, slides, playgrounds, outdoor cinemas and rooftop spaces (see design on the right).

Receiving his award at the Design Talk held as part of Wimbledon Bookfest on Wednesday evening (October 8) Pablo said: "I am so proud to receive this award. When we looked at the brief we realised our role was not to create a masterplan but to play a role in the public process.

"Our idea was to make people participate – to create an active place where they can live, work, eat and play, so we used the idea of 'gamification' – solving problems through games - which has been used extensively in marketing, but we wanted to see whether it could be used in urban design."

Lugadero's plans address the lack of small public spaces in the town centre by creating them on rooftops, empty spaces and courtyards with the intention of motivating the public to engage with the town centre through events, games and workshops, with an additional digital layer applied via social media.

"We hope we can make Wimbledon more playful and more fun," said Pablo.

The judges said Play Wimbledon impressed because of its inclusivity, scale and flexibility, and because it had taken an idea which is usually top down and presented it in a different way.  The competition was run by Merton Council and Love Wimbledon Business Improvement District, supported by the Design Council.

Paul Finch, chair of the judging panel convened by the Design Council and which included Alison Brooks, Peter Murray, Morag Myerscough and Wayne Hemmngway, said: "There is something good about having smaller discrete projects that don't depend on others - it means they can be implemented individually, concurrently or at different stages. 

"Play Wimbledon treats the town centre as a campus rather than a mega structure to be replaced by another mega structure.

"It is a demonstrably intelligent approach to thinking about a town centre and its many opportunities in both the short and long term.

"Its playfulness is refreshing and appealing and makes the city feel less daunting, rather something that can be enjoyed with others. 

"Projects can be implemented over time and allow for the response to be gauged. The vision can respond to any option put forward by Crossrail 2."

Play Wimbledon beat almost 100 other entries to the Ideas Competition, all of whom came up with novel suggestions for how the town centre could evolve and prosper over the next 15 years.

The 29 shortlisted entries will be available on the Future Wimbledon website.

In second place in the Rising Stars category is Michael Betts of m12 studio, who proposed creating a new 'heart' for the town by pedestrianising the Broadway and building a covered space running down to an Arts Square by New Wimbledon Theatre. This scheme was given £1,000 in prize money.

Mark Jason Warren’s scheme, which also takes traffic away from the Broadway, and plants a series of gardens along it, is awarded joint third place and £500. He shared third place with Holly Lewis of We Made That and her 'Wimbledon Network', which envisions market stalls, performances and fitness classes along the Broadway, while revitalised rear yards become productive 'green rooms' for local businesses and deliveries are made by tuk-tuks. This entry also receives £500.

A separate Creative Communities award was won by the Wimbledon East Hillside Residents Association. (Leigh Terrafranca is pictured left receiving the award on behalf of Wimbledon East Hillside Residents Association from Paul Windsor, chair of Love Wimbledon).

Their concept was to expand the ‘greening’ of Wimbledon symbolised by the All England Lawn Tennis Association and the Common into the town centre by laying turf or astroturf, creating green public spaces – including a Station Green, a Theatre Green, a Market Green outside the town centre supermarket Morrisons and a Womble Green. The spaces would all be interconnected by a network of ‘wormholes’ for pedestrians and cyclists.

Speaking before a packed audience at the Design Talk awards ceremony, Councilllor Andrew Judge, Merton's cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration, said he had been impressed by the number of key themes picked up in the competition – the 'greening' of the town centre, the calming of traffic and more space for people through the use of shared space.

"We want Wimbledon to be the very best it can be and it has the potential to become a significant hub for South London. We need to take the best of what it has now, its culture, heritage, innovation and tech business success, to a new level for the 21st century.

"This competition has provided the opportunity to harness creative ideas which can be used to help Wimbledon have that dynamic future."

Paul Windsor, chair of Love Wimbledon Business Improvement District, said he was delighted that the competition had helped to pull together key visions of the future of Wimbledon from both the local and professional communities.

"This will help create an exciting and vibrant blueprint for the future of Wimbledon for the people who live here as well as work and visit," he said.

October 12, 2014

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Pablo Fernandez with Paul Windsor, chair of Love Wimbledon