Good to go
The scheme is ‘open-source’, and the 2,000m² site’s moveable modules can easily be replicated, remixed, changed or moved to other parts of the city.
Professor Dunnett hopes that people will take the drawings and templates and start their own urban schemes. ‘The centres of cities are fluid spaces that change as dramatically as the fields around them’, he said. ‘By creating moveable and modular components, we can bring nature and wildflowers into the very heart of our inner cities.’
Love Square features a community café made from converted shipping containers with wildflower green roof, and a living wall of native climbing plants. Outdoor seating areas are surrounded by colourful wildflower meadows.
A mini wetland soaks up rainwater after storms, helping to prevent flooding, and the artwork-packed Love Square will be lined with an edge of bird-friendly trees. It’s designed to be a colourful community space bringing social and economic benefits to a neglected part of the city, and a go-to place for all of Sheffield.
The project has received the support of modern-day ‘Johnny Appleseed’ and ‘renegade gardener’ Ron Finley from South Central, Los Angeles.
Ron, who sparked a revolution when he began planting food on a grass verge outside his home, visited the site during a trip hosted by the University of Sheffield during its Festival of the Mind.
‘I see Love Square as a place for people to stop and think – where they can enjoy nature and be a part of nature. I think it’s going to be a magical experiment in combining the urban with the garden.
‘Love Square is the perfect name for it. It brings love into the environment and it’s going to be so sexy to have this happen.
‘This isn’t just for Sheffield. We want this all over the country – all over the world. With your vote we can start making this happen.’
Ron Finley, guerrilla gardener
Grey to green
The eco-park at Love Square will form the hub of another regeneration project: Grey to Green, which will transform 1.3km of a redundant dual carriageway into a green cycle and pedestrian route.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.
For more information about Love Square, visit Sheffield University’s Love Square site. More information about the four other projects shortlisted for the funding, along with how to vote, can be found at growwilduk.com.