The design for 'The Green Eye' was a response to the local Council trying to raise funding by offering a lease to commercial businesses in the park areas and a public desire to retain public green space. The Council wants income, the public want green space – are the two compatible?

      We looked at what small scale business would generate the best income and what events regularly occur in the park. The answer is that a restaurant / café / bar would generate the best income, but this would need a service area accessible to the road which circles the park. This would mean pushing the building to the perimeter. The most common events in the park involve music, with temporary stage sets appearing every so often. So we wanted to suggest a café / bar that could host music events. The problem with this is that it would lead to a large building due to audience capacity and that is something nobody wanted in the park. We therefore needed to think of things in a slightly different way, to bring these two elements together. Added to this is a third element: when arriving by road from the West the building would become very visible and what we liked most about the situation at present is that the park hid most of the town. In other words, everything looked Green and we wanted to keep it that way. At the same time we also realised that visibility helps business, so while trying to become part of the surroundings, the building also needed to appear intriguing enough to entice people out of their cars and into the park.

      The proposed 'Green Eye' pushes the building to the very back of the site where a screen of trees separate the park from the road. The existing trees are situated on a raised bank and it is the height of this that determines the height of the roof level of the new building and this connects the two spaces. The roof of the proposed building therefore forms a grassed embankment with a pathway allowing access onto the level of the trees and so extending the walkable park area. This also creates a vista into the rest of the park, but more than that, the earth embankment creates a very effective insulation for both noise and heat, making the building very energy efficient.

      To service the building a tunnel is proposed through the existing embankment to the ring road beyond, connecting to a lay-by that is a redundant residue from a previous road scheme. This allows the servicing (deliveries, recycling, rubbish etc.) completely hidden from the view of the park.

      The building is small, it operates as a small bar with music during the night and as a café onto the park during the day. In Summer, for special events, the ornate screens fan out to create a 'Hollywood Bowl' styled effect so that the building becomes a stage facing out to the audience sitting in the park – allowing for a bigger audience while keeping the building small.

      We live in a time when buildings are often presented as images, when in reality the value of design is that it offers solutions to problems and so in some small way make things a little better.

Alex King at Designalexable can also be found at designalexable.blogspot.com and designalexable.tumblr.com

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