Park Palace Ponies: People’s ‘common good’ wins MacEwen Award

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Launched in 2015, the MacEwen award celebrates architecture with a social purpose that enhances the lives of people and communities. This year’s winner Park Palace Ponies has realised that dream for the Dingle area of Liverpool.

The scheme by Harrison Stringfellow Architects is not about architecture of form and aesthetic, but about questioning convention and using creativity to connect people together, to build engagement and community ownership. Bringing back into use a disused cinema building, in a place where the standard approach is ‘demolish, build, new’, Harrison Stringfellow wanted to keep something that the community clearly loved and invite them back in. Transforming this venue into an urban riding school means that a disused building has been reinvigorated, local people of all ages are getting more active, a national charity [British Equestrian Foundation] is supporting the initiative and there are employment and educational opportunities.

Beyond the building, the ponies of Park Palace connect leftover pieces of green space through grazing and connect local growing projects though a supply of manure.

With a project cost of around £50,000 Harrison Stringfellow did the minimum to the building to make it do what it needed to do, with a focus on planning, consultation and enabling having successfully brought back into life an existing local landmark.

A once threatened building, a 12-month pilot project has re-established the horse in the city and brought skills to urban kids who rarely have this opportunity. The community response and success of the scheme has seen Harrison Stringfellow submit a planning application that will make the ponies of Park Palace permanent.

Harrison Stringfellow said

“We always closely follow the MacEwen as the ethos of the award is aligned with that of our own practice, in recognising the social responsibility of buildings and projects, and we are thus delighted to have won with Park Palace Ponies.”

The client, Keith Hackett said

“The awarding of the MacEwen award to Park Palace Ponies is a testament to a successful and ongoing partnership between client and architect, with Harrison Stringfellow helping us deliver our vision, and remaining involved in the project as the sponsor of our pony Bobby.”

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