“Our Common Spaces” Project

The preparation and planning for this series of projects kicked off in November 2013 when Sonia Kirby from Establish Consulting facilitated a number of tenant forums aimed to explore better ways to use the common spaces located on the ground floor at Brisbane Common Ground. Sonia was introduced to us by Charlie Cush from Circa, Yen Trinh from the Queensland Museum and Paul Songhurst from Brisbane City Council.

The spaces we looked at included an empty 20m2 building fronting Fleet Lane – “Our Shed”, a lawn covered greenspace at the rear of the building – “Our Yard” and the Cross-link Walkway that connects Hope Street and Fleet Lane – “Our Lane”.

The forums delivered a number of options which were then put forward to the tenant community in the form of a preferences survey.

42 tenants returned a completed survey form. This represented a 28.77% response rate. The results clearly indicated that the tenants wanted to see “Our Shed” converted to a Fitness Room (80.95%), “Our Backyard” upgraded to include undercover seating with some landscape and art beautification (80.95%) and the concrete platform at the Hope Street entrance of the Cross-link Walkway repurposed from an informal seat into an iconic and durable community art piece (71.43%).

Since then we have been proactive in sourcing the funds needed to bring these projects to life. In July 2014 we were fortunate to secure a Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant to resource “Our Yard” project. A second round of good news came in late 2014 when an ex-Board member decided to generously donate the funds to complete the renovations of “Our Shed” and to purchase some exercise equipment. Then in February 2015 we received confirmation from Brisbane City Council that we had been successful in our grant application to the Suburban Crime Prevention Grant to fund the transformation of the concrete platform in the Cross-link Walkway into a beautiful community sculpture.

We’d like to share some of our exciting progress with you:

Our Shed

The donation we generously received last year from ex-board member, Phil Heraghty has allowed us to renovate the room and to purchase one exercise bike and a number of TRX exercise straps. We plan to run free group fitness sessions for tenants in May 2015 with support from a local strength and conditioning coach. Lewis Bros Mitre 10 provided a generous paint donation and Stowe Electrical have also donated the material and labour to install electrical powerpoints and light fittings to the room.

A few of the Common Ground Queensland staff under the leadership of Operations Manager, Michael Murphy have painted the room white, installed the ceiling and laid the rubber flooring. The Brisbane Common Ground Art Group under the facilitation of Artist in Residence, John Fitz-Walter are designing and painting a series of landscape canvases which will add colour and art to the space.

Our Yard

We would like to extend a special thanks to Verde Design for their generous contribution in preparing a landscape concept plan for ‘Our Yard’. Their pro-bono support helped us with the initial grant application and has influenced the elements we will be incorporating into the backyard.

In the last couple of months we’ve been busy coordinating the design for the undercover seating area. Kevin Hayes, a locally-based architect and early supporter of Brisbane Common Ground has developed a solution which is functional, pleasing to the eye and complementary of the existing architecture.

We are now in the process of sourcing building contractors to get construction underway.

Grocon have confirmed their commitment to helping us with labour and expertise to install an outdoor decking area.

We’ve also had some early discussions with John Fitz-Walter; our Artist in Residence to transform one of the besser brick walls in this area into a beautiful mosaic piece. This will be another great opportunity for the Brisbane Common Ground Art Group to create a masterpiece.

Our Lane

The Cross-link Art Project will be managed by John Fitz-Walter (our Artist in Residence) and his creative partner, Stephanie Outridge Field with input and collaboration from TAFE Queensland Brisbane (Southbank Campus). We are looking forward to creating an iconic symbol for the building which is designed and created by tenants, students and the wider community.

Early discussions with TAFE’s Director for Creative Arts and Digital Design, Carla Reading in 2014 regarding incorporating the project into the Certificate III Visual Arts has come to fruition with the project now included in the first semester Sculpture Module of this Program. We would like to thank Natasha Rodriguez from Micah Projects for introducing us to TAFE’s Craig Poole. We thank Craig for playing an instrumental role in setting up the initial meetings between Carla Reading and Common Ground Queensland.

This will be an exciting project similar in size and scope to the ‘From the Ground Up’ canvases which were created last year.

Moving Forward

We’ve come a long way since we had the early ‘Our Common Spaces’ planning forums and tenant surveys in late 2013. With help and support from local and state government grants, benefactors and collaborative partners, we’ve made great progress in realising the vision and the preferences that the majority of tenants wanted to see happen in these areas and we look forward to the transformation of these spaces over the coming months.