Nature’s Winter

Holmgren Domain: Education and Culture

Aim: To work with local communities around Lake Windermere to create an installation at Windermere Jetty that explores ideas of nature and weather in relation to the lake and to local community stories

Date: August to November 2019

Client: Lakeland Arts / Windermere Jetty

Status: Completed

How does the design reflect the Permaculture ethics?

People CarePlacing local people and their ideas at the heart of the design.Collaborative and open process.Working sensitively and generously with collaborators and wider team.Set realistic and workable targets and deadlines
Earth CareFocus upon nature and climate.Use of natural and reusable materials where possible.Encourage and support remote working.Minimalist approach – simple build.
Fair ShareCo-production as key element of project.Focus on experiential not material.Collaborative.Participatory.Encourage and celebrate community voices.

How does the design reflect Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles?

Observe and interactCollaborative process.Co-produced.
Catch and store energyMaximise team work plus collaboration.
Obtain a yieldCreate an installation with a range of benefits and with reusable aspects.
Apply self-regulation and accept feedbackTeam focus.Collaborative.
Use and value renewable resourcesFocus upon using materials that are natural and / or easily reusable.
Produce no wasteFocus upon using materials that are natural and / or easily reusable.
Use slow and small solutionsUse time as well as possible within a tight schedule.
Design from pattern to detailHone ideas through an open and collaborative process.
Integrate rather than segregateHone ideas through an open and collaborative process.
Use and value diversityHone ideas through an open and collaborative process.
Use edges and value marginalHone ideas through an open and collaborative process.
Creatively use and respond to changeHone ideas through an open and collaborative process.Co-produced process

How does the design meet the diploma assessment criteria?

Demonstrating design skillsPractical use of the “design web” and other tools.
Applying Permaculture to own lifeUse of permaculture within a personal work project.
Applying Permaculture to own work / projectsDesign used to support live work project.
DisseminationSocial media, blog, through final exhibition plus associated press, local Permaculture networks.
Community buildingCo-produced installation, community voice as central.
SymmetrySharing process and documentation via social media and diploma group.
Evaluation / CostingsIntegral parts of live brief.

How are my personal learning objectives reflected?

Permaculture design as underlying foundation to the work that I doUsing Permaculture methods to design a project that has been commissioned within my professional practice.Application of Permaculture design within a real context in my professional practice.
Build links to the Permaculture communitySharing process and documentation via social media and diploma group.
Develop learning within the structure of the diplomaApplication of familiar design tools to an unfamiliar context thus developing my learning furtherIncreased knowledge / confidence through application of Permaculture Design in the context of a live design brief.

Resources / Support

The Design Web – Looby McNamara

Permaculture – Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability – David Holmgren

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

Local Heritage Collections – Lakeland Arts /Museum of Lakeland Life

Collections at Windermere Jetty


Tools / techniques including: client interview, design meetings, vision brainstorm, motivation and resource analysis, initial rik / limit assessment, context analysis, ideas analysis, principles analysis, systems analysis, yields web, action planning, risk assessment.

Light pod in context

Vision, Helps, Limits

In July 2019 I was invited to work with the team at Windermere Jetty to create a piece of work for families and children within their temporary exhibition space. They were clear that they wanted to create a space which was accessible and fun for this audience, but beyond that I was presented with a blank canvas.

I began working upon VISION both as an individual but also with the wider project team through workshops and conversations. Following an initial visioning day with the team at the jetty I began to get a sense of the space we were going to create as being playful and accessible. It was also clear that community voices should be represented clearly and these voices should link to the wider collection at the jetty. In terms of theme the visioning workshops revealed “weather and climate as a theme that would be able to bring all of these aspirations together, whilst remaining universally accessible to visitors and local communities. (Appendices 1 and 2). I used all of this information to pull together a project proposal which is included within the supporting documentation for this aspect of the design.

I then went on to explore HELPS that would help me to compete the design. I did this from the basis of personal experience but also as a result of the things that had been learned at the visioning workshop.  It became clear that collaboration would be particularly important within this project both in terms of the project team but also in terms of the local community, and with the sense of play and accessibility of the final installation. This in itself needed to be a space to inspire ongoing participation and collaboration. (Appendix 3)

Finally I thought more about the LIMITS that may affect the design. The ones which felt particularly relevant in this instance were the short timescale, and the challenge and implication of distance working. (Appendix 4)

At this point we also created a plan of activities that would be used as the community engagement element of the project.

Initial Design Drawings by Lara Booth

Patterns, Ideas, Principles

I looked at all of the HELPS and LIMITS and tried to see if there were PATTERNS that pulled them together. They seemed to fall into five categories – emotional, physical, knowledge, support and logistical.

Where challenges occurred I though about what could be done within the design to mitigate them. It became clear that most challenges were logistical ones and that overwhelmingly the patterns that emerged were positive ones. It was also clear that challenges did not dominate in any one area, so if mitigation was put in place they should not become too much of a hindrance to the design as a whole. (Appendix 5)

I also decided within this design it was useful to go through a similar process to think clearly about the way that the content of the exhibition may sit in relation to the patterns that had emerged. And also in terms of thematic links between different aspects of the possible exhibition content. (Appendix 6) Most of these ideas can from initial discussions with my designer (Appendix 7), discussions with colleagues at the jetty and my own thinking. I then drew this together to explore where the thematic links would lie in the installation.

Alongside this I gathered further IDEAS and inspiration from a range of different sources, and using a range of different collaborative and participatory methods – primarily through the use of Basecamp as a shared space for ideas. (Appendix 8).

I explored these logistical and content focussed patterns in relation to the Permaculture Principles. I wanted to try and embed more clearly what made this specifically a Permaculture Design and knew that this would help me do that. (Appendix 9).

Finally I brought all of this together to being creating first stage designs for the installation. (Appendix 10)

Work created by local schools on display in the installation

Integration, Action, Momentum

I looked at how the different functions that I wanted to achieve connected to the systems that would exist within the final design – project, process and management, design and built space (appendix 12)

I then thought about the yields linked to the systems using the yields web (appendix 13). It was good to see that most elements produced multiple yields. It also made me aware that a couple of yields were only produced by a single system so I would need to be aware of these so that they were delivered by the final design. This observation was relevant for sustainability, collaboration and organisation. I then used systems analysis to explore the yields from each element in more detail (appendix 14).

The next step was to create a plan documenting what would need to happen when in order for the exhibition to open by the end of November. This was broken down into key dates for design, for plan and build and for engagement and participation. As the timeline for the project was so tight it was essential that we met these deadlines in order to open in time (appendix 15).

I thought about MOMENTUM for the design (appendix 16) I decided what were the key moments in this respect, then decided when they needed to happen and what support would be necessary in order for them to happen.

At this stage we also pulled together the final design for the built elements of the project (appendix 17) and thought about the design schedule and tech week schedule (appendix 18) In addition to this we had our eye on the other aspects of the project including participation elements, copy, design and budget. Basecamp was the key tool to ensure that all of these elements were on track.

The view onto Lake Windermere

Appreciation, Pause, Reflection.

At this point I took time to observe the things that I felt particularly grateful for at the different stages of the project (appendix 19) It became clear from this how important the creative and collaborative process was for me within this design. And also the sense of collaboration and working as a team.

I also thought about the key moments in the design where I allowed time to pause and reflect. These were my regular trips to Windermere, team catch ups, weekly project updates, and during time spent away from the project when my focus was directed elsewhere (appendix 20).

The final thing I did at the end of the design was to reflect upon what had gone well and what hadn’t been so successful. I also reflected upon what the highlights were for me, and how I would reflect upon my learning from this design going forward (appendix 21)