Colorful Little Building Marries Nature, Community

Every park should have a “jolly custodian,” no? This is how architect Studio Weave described its intent for a dazzling and inviting new – and quite functional – little building that brings together nature and people in Central Park in the London suburb of Dartford, Kent.

The building, featured recently on ArchDaily, fulfilled its mission in part with a the help of graphic designers Nous Vous and, not insignificantly, the community, who made the building’s exterior come to colorful life.

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

“Prior to its installation, Nous Vous ran a series of workshops with a team of local residents and artists to paint all of the 144 panels, which form the external cladding,” Studio Weave says on their website.

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

The emphasis on color extends beyond the building’s paint job. According to the Dartford Borough Council:

In tandem with the design of The Ecology of Colour, Studio Weave have worked in collaboration with a horticulturalist to design a garden that will yield natural dyes. The planting scheme, which will be installed next Spring, predominantly includes traditional plants native to the South of England such as Golden Rod which produces a magnificent yellow, Alder known for its vibrant red and Bugloss whose roots produce a mesmerizing blue.

Another crucial aspect of making the building welcoming and useful is its flexibility: “Opening shutters of various sizes on the upper floor allow for activities ranging from quiet, hidden wildlife spotting, and nature drawing workshops, to public events that spill out into the park,” says Studio Weave.

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

Photo by Jim Stephenson, via Studio Weave

The “Ecology of Colour” project at Ecology Island is part of a larger Central Park Vision by Dartford to “provide more recreation, more sport, more gardens, more entertainment and more places to rest and relax. We wanted there to be more for kids and families – a safe haven from our busy town.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.