Challenge Collaborative community service design project aiming to open pathways to broader community use of the Old Rectory building in Loughborough Town. The desired solution should aim to attract more visitors to the ‘museum’ and ‘surrounding gardens’ by encouraging local residents to engage in events and projects held by the local council.
Pen and paper
We began the project by exploring our team skills, setting tasks and roles for the projects, creating a blog and google drive and starting the discovery phase of the project. We began to explore the problems around the site and conduct secondary research to inform our development.
Mapping the problem
Following the briefing sessions from stakeholders of The Old Rectory we mapped out the problems and stakeholders associated with The Old Rectory. This helped us to fully orientate ourselves with the brief, problem and service.
We separated stakeholders into core, primary and secondary stakeholders to discern the focus of our enquiries and identify further research areas.
Using affinity mapping, we outlined our assumptions and initial findings. This highlighted the access and funding as the two main issues at The Old Rectory. The Affinity Mapping method also enabled us to generate a set of questions to ask the stakeholders at the first site visit and co-design session.
We conducted a site visit from which we identified that The Old Rectory was:
1. Poorly maintained
2. Suffered from an unstructured layout
3. Showed evidence of anti-social behaviour
4. Had limited youth appeal
5. Low visibility from the road
We conducted some initial observations of the general locations surrounding the site. We also interviewed some locals, small business owners and a local policeman.
Alongside this primary research, we conducted secondary research into the demographics of the surrounding area, who lives there and what their activities included.
We conducted a round robin of stakeholders, from architects to volunteers to find out as much as we could about The Old Rectory – its history, the building itself and the surrounding grounds and area.
Key stakeholder insights included:
– ‘People rarely notice this place exists’
– ‘Next to no rules, we are open to try new things’
– ‘Not much of a connection between the three buildings’
– ‘The whole place just needs to be updated!’
Analysis – Affinity Mapping
We downloaded all our findings onto post-it notes and used the data analysis tool of affinity mapping to pull out some key insights from our data.
Key themes we identified: Lack of visibility, poor community perceptions of current site, poor safety, no modern link to surrounding community, not suitable/ appealing for children, no food or drink on-site, heritage value not clear or promoted.
How Might We’s
We used the HMW method to generate some concepts for repurposing The Old Rectory building and gardens. To generate as many ideas as possible, we did this taking into account its current use as a museum. We identified three potential concepts:
We deployed a range of methods to further hone and define our direction for and ensure that our chosen idea was something that the Loughborough community would engage with and support should it be pursued further. We conducted the following exercises:
2. Design for Happiness
3. Community Survey
All methods pointed to the Climbing Wall as the strongest service concept.
Above – Final SCAMPER Matrix
Based on what we discovered, we began exploring and developing our solution. We mapped out the new site, researched costs, materials and the history of the site.
We completed multiple service safaris and interviews therein with service stakeholders. Two main safaris regarded visiting both local and London based climbing walls.
These service safaris generated key insights that shaped our direction moving forward and led us to repurpose The Old Rectory as a ‘smaller’, ‘feeder’ climbing centre/area that would be suitable for children and would be a great as an outdoor gym.
Further Contextual Research
We found that the climbing wall would be an excellent addition to the town and good concept for social inclusion through sport, particularly since climbing is due to become an olympic sport by 2020. We further found that it fitted with local government aspirations to improve diversity in sport, particularly among ethnic minorities and with outdoor activities.
We sketched out our concept, considering how it might fit into the existing site footprint and how to fully ultilise the buidling. Some of this initial concept generation is shown below.
We had one last co-design session with the core stakeholder of The Old Rectory and The Loughborough Archaeological Society volunteers, to which we presented our concept. From this we were able to identify some last minute oppotunities to improve and iterate on our concept: Most comments related to how we might tweak our concept and service to improve it as a community-focused space. For example stakeholders stated the following:
‘HOW ARE PEOPLE GOING TO FIND OUT ABOUT IT?’
From this we decided to develop a basic website for our stakeholder presentation.
‘MAKE CAFÉ MORE HEALTH FOCUSED’
From this we decided to ensure that the cafe was a health focused artisan café
We completed a service blueprint to fully map out how the service might work, simulating the use of The Old Rectory as a climbing facility and café. This helped us explore and develop the concept into a refined solution.
The final soution comes in the form of a three part renovation of the site. The addition of a climbing wall for local clubs and schools to use, a new outdoor gym and a cafe with an outdoor childrens; play area. The Retreat is designed to be a community facility for people of all ages.
As part of our solution, we created a functional website prototype that outlined many of the features and functions of the new site, including a meal ordering platform and access to the cafe menus. The working prototype can be found at: https://rjmandeep89.wixsite.com/rectorypark
Funding and Collaboration
There were a number of considerations when designing and developing our final concept. We costed the entire site and explored options for funding and collaboration with local and national initiatives. We found a number of suitable options to assist in the construction and maintenance of the site and suggested a step by step approach to the development of the site, starting with the cafe and outdoor play area and ending with the gym.