Arise Phoenix Park!

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The story of our park

The site was originally a row of empty houses in poor condition that were attracting unwanted antisocial behaviour. They were demolished as part of the Gascoigne west redevelopment. At the same time, the nearby Hardwick Street play area was due to close for refurbishment. Since it would be several years before new homes would be built there, the site offered the perfect opportunity for a temporary park.

This park is for local residents. So, why not have it designed by them? At Be First, we wanted to champion the idea of a resident co-designed pocket park and worked closely with the newly formed Gascoigne Residents Forum in a co-design process. The completed park is a testament to the genuine collaboration between Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council, Wates Residential, Fabrik and Urban Symbiotics with residents at the heart of the process. It is funded by Be First and Wates Residential with additional support from their social value commitments to the borough.


Co-creation - design by the community

The Gascoigne Residents' Forum (GRF) was established in October 2020 to ensure that the concerns, aspirations and priorities of local residents would be addressed and understood as the Gascoigne neighbourhood of Barking developed. We recruited 18 residents from a range of ages and backgrounds who live in the area. Over six weeks, we held online sessions with the new group to build their capacity and knowledge, to ensure they were able to take part in more deliberative discussions about the neighbourhood. These sessions included an insight into estate renewal, placemaking and the design process.

The pocket park was one of the first projects for the GRF and we agreed that a co-design process was required. In a series of workshops, designers became facilitators and community members became designers. Everyone worked collaboratively throughout the process to infuse ideas and to discuss and develop designs as they started to emerge.


Exercise, play, growing, contemplation

This park is a product of a genuine co-design process. It is designed around four themes identified by local residents - exercise, play, growing and contemplation. At the heart of the park is a stage area, which can be used for gatherings, events, communal dining, games and more.

The park includes a natural play area, a gym corner, a seating and stage area for relaxing in, a garden area, a large feasting table and a growing plot.


A sustainable legacy

The park has been constructed using materials that have been reclaimed from the demolition of the Gascoigne estate or waste construction materials where possible. Any new materials such as planting or trees, will have a final, permanent location in the Gascoigne neighbourhood once it has been built. The park will be a vibrant facility for the local community for approximately five years.


Our launch programme

The park has been selected for inclusion in this years' London Festival of Architecture.

To launch the park there will be an exciting programme of events including:

  • an open exhibition with display boards available throughout all of June that charts the journey of co-creating the park with residents.
  • an online panel discussion on Wednesday 9 June from 6 to 7.30pm on involving residents, Be First, Fabrik, Urban Symbiotics and Wates Residential to learn more about how the park was co-created with residents at the heart of the process. Book online via eventbrite.
  • the Phoenix Park Celebration on Saturday 31 July, 12-4pm. Local residents are invited to celebrate the new pop-up pocket park with an afternoon of free family-friendly fun for everyone.

The story of our park

The site was originally a row of empty houses in poor condition that were attracting unwanted antisocial behaviour. They were demolished as part of the Gascoigne west redevelopment. At the same time, the nearby Hardwick Street play area was due to close for refurbishment. Since it would be several years before new homes would be built there, the site offered the perfect opportunity for a temporary park.

This park is for local residents. So, why not have it designed by them? At Be First, we wanted to champion the idea of a resident co-designed pocket park and worked closely with the newly formed Gascoigne Residents Forum in a co-design process. The completed park is a testament to the genuine collaboration between Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council, Wates Residential, Fabrik and Urban Symbiotics with residents at the heart of the process. It is funded by Be First and Wates Residential with additional support from their social value commitments to the borough.


Co-creation - design by the community

The Gascoigne Residents' Forum (GRF) was established in October 2020 to ensure that the concerns, aspirations and priorities of local residents would be addressed and understood as the Gascoigne neighbourhood of Barking developed. We recruited 18 residents from a range of ages and backgrounds who live in the area. Over six weeks, we held online sessions with the new group to build their capacity and knowledge, to ensure they were able to take part in more deliberative discussions about the neighbourhood. These sessions included an insight into estate renewal, placemaking and the design process.

The pocket park was one of the first projects for the GRF and we agreed that a co-design process was required. In a series of workshops, designers became facilitators and community members became designers. Everyone worked collaboratively throughout the process to infuse ideas and to discuss and develop designs as they started to emerge.


Exercise, play, growing, contemplation

This park is a product of a genuine co-design process. It is designed around four themes identified by local residents - exercise, play, growing and contemplation. At the heart of the park is a stage area, which can be used for gatherings, events, communal dining, games and more.

The park includes a natural play area, a gym corner, a seating and stage area for relaxing in, a garden area, a large feasting table and a growing plot.


A sustainable legacy

The park has been constructed using materials that have been reclaimed from the demolition of the Gascoigne estate or waste construction materials where possible. Any new materials such as planting or trees, will have a final, permanent location in the Gascoigne neighbourhood once it has been built. The park will be a vibrant facility for the local community for approximately five years.


Our launch programme

The park has been selected for inclusion in this years' London Festival of Architecture.

To launch the park there will be an exciting programme of events including:

  • an open exhibition with display boards available throughout all of June that charts the journey of co-creating the park with residents.
  • an online panel discussion on Wednesday 9 June from 6 to 7.30pm on involving residents, Be First, Fabrik, Urban Symbiotics and Wates Residential to learn more about how the park was co-created with residents at the heart of the process. Book online via eventbrite.
  • the Phoenix Park Celebration on Saturday 31 July, 12-4pm. Local residents are invited to celebrate the new pop-up pocket park with an afternoon of free family-friendly fun for everyone.
  • Harvest Day Street Party

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    Come along on Saturday 9 October from 12 noon to celebrate the final harvest of the Phoenix Park community garden for the year with a neighbourhood Street Party. The park is a place where the local community can meet, grow and share produce together.

    The free event will entail food, games, a demo on community growing and more!

    Organised by local resident Akol supported by Every One Every Day.

  • Phoenix Park Celebrations

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    More than 150 people helped to celebrate the opening of Phoenix Park in the Gascoigne neighbourhood of Barking on Saturday 31st July.

    The event featured a host of activities including table tennis, a children’s drawing competition and giant chess.

    Local councillors, both Deputy Leaders, Cllr Dominic Twomey, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Core Services and Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, Cllr Saima Ashraf, took part in the celebration which brought together community organisations from around the area.

    Cllr Ashraf said: “It was such a great day and so good to see everyone having fun. The new Phoenix Park is fabulous but it’s no wonder because it’s been designed by the community, for the community and you can see they’ve put their heart and soul into it.”

    Local resident and Gascoigne Residents’ Forum member, Kenneth Soko, said: “Having lived on the Gascoigne Estate for over 10 years and now being a member of the residents forum, I am sure my fellow members would agree with me that it is an honour to have been part of the co-design of Phoenix Park. I am thankful for Be First for engaging the community. This park is truly the people’s park.”

    Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Co-ordinator at Be First, said: “The amount of love and hard work put into making this park a great place has been breath-taking. Be First is proud to be a part of it but without the passion from local residents, the area would not have such a wonderful park.”

    The park, which was built by Wates Residential, was designed around four themes identified by local residents; exercise, play, growing and contemplation. These are brought together at the heart through a stage, which can be used for gatherings, events, communal dining, games and more.

    The park includes: a natural play area, a gym corner, a seating and stage area for a space to relax in, a garden area, a large feasting table and a growing plot. Access is via Abbey Road, Barking and the park is open 7am-9pm.






  • Celebrate Phoenix Park!

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    Join us for music, entertainment and free activities to celebrate the new Phoenix Park. The Gascoigne Residents’ Forum supported by Be First is hosting a community fun day for all.

    On Saturday 31st July, 12-4pm, join us for a fun-filled, informative afternoon for the whole community to enjoy.

    You will have the opportunity to meet the Gascoigne Residents’ Forum members who helped create the park and find out what it has to offer. Talk to a green fingered expert about getting involved in communal growing in the park, and learn how you can be involved in the future of the park.

    You can break a sweat with games of table tennis, and fitness challenges in “The Challenge Zone”. Children can take part in a drawing competition, play giant chess or join other visitors in learning more about the selected plants in the park and how to care for them.

    Share your Gascoigne memories and sign up for the Gascoigne Heritage Tour taking place at 1.30pm. Only 12 spots available so if you fancy taking a stroll around Gascoigne, taking in the views and learning about the rich history of the area you can sign up in advance at communities@befirst.london

    Please register for a FREE ticket in advance via Eventbrite. Ticket allocation will be on a first come first serve basis.


  • Phoenix Park community event postponed

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    We are very sorry to announce that due to the non-easing of covid restrictions the community event in the new Phoenix Park in the Gascoigne neighbourhood on Saturday, 26 June has been postponed.

    A Be First spokesperson said: “We will look to reschedule the event as soon as possible however public health is our first priority."

    “Once again we apologise for any inconvenience.”

  • Phoenix Park Launch Festival

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    To celebrate the official launch of Phoenix Park, the newly formed Gascoigne Residents’ Forum supported by Be First is hosting a festival on Saturday 26 June from midday until 4pm. The afternoon is set to be filled with fun and exciting activities for the local community to enjoy.

    There will be games of table tennis and the chance to have a go at chin-ups or the longest plank in “The Challenge Zone”. Children can take part in drawing and creative activities or join other visitors in learning more about the selected plants in the park and how to care for them.

    Join us at Phoenix Park, Abbey Road IG11 7DA

    Please note this event will go ahead in line with COVID guidelines and forthcoming government announcements. As such we will be capping the maximum number of visitors allowed in the park at one time.

  • Phoenix Park is part of the London Festival of Architecture!

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    We are pleased to announce that Phoenix park has been selected for inclusion in this year's London Festival of Architecture. The Festival is the world's biggest annual architecture event and, to celebrate, we've programmed an exhibition and online panel discussion about the park!

    Open Exhibition in the park, runs from 1-30 June, open every day till 7pm. An exhibition in the park with a series of boards charting the process of co-design by residents, landscape architects, the client, maintenance teams and contractor.

    Co-creating Phoenix Park - online panel talk. Wednesday 9 June, 6-7.30pm. Join a panel made up of residents, Be First and partners to learn more about how the park was co-created with residents at the heart of the process. Book this event via eventbrite.

Page last updated: 07 October 2021, 20:42